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'Tf you love Rumi. Hafr/, The Tao, if you love words dancing out of 
the mystery, welcome to The Jbzdumee Sutnir. these are among the most 
profound and luminous verses you will ever read 

JACK KORN FIELD, author of A Path loitb Heart 




i 12 Gateways to 
the Yoga of 
Wonder & Delight 

Lorin Roche, phd 

Foreword by Shiva Rea 




112 Gateways to 
the Yoga of 
Wonder & Delight 

Lorin Roche, PhD 

sounDS True 



Lift a cup of soma in praise 
to Lakshmanjoo 

... a round of soma on my tab 
to his students 

Lilian Silburn, Paul Reps, Jaideva Singh, 
Alexis Sanderson, and 
John and Denise Hughes 

A case of amria to 
Panini and Company 

Ambrosia on tap to Rabindranath Tagore 

Bombay Sapphire to 
Otto Bohtlingk, Rudolph Roth, and 
Sir Monier-Williams 

And a pet anteater 
To Valmiki 

Translating the nectar of wisdom 
of the wisdom traditions 
is the work of centuries 



Foreword by Shiva Rea 


A Language of Love 
Meditation as Embrace 
This Version 

Reading the Sutras and Practices 
Savoring the Sutras 

PART ONE The Radiance Sutras 
Banter Verses 
Yukti Verses 
Insight Verses 

PART TWO Invitations and Illuminations 
Yukti Practice Transmissions 
Yukti Practices 
Engaging with the Sutras 

The Lab 

Listening to Pranashakti 
Translation as Rapture 
The Play of Sanskrit and English 
Other Versions of the Bhairava Tantra 


About Accompanying Music 
About the Author 


About Sounds True 




In your hands, you hold a treasure. 

The Radiance Sutras, the life-work of beloved writer and teacher Lorin Roche, is a contemporary 
interpretation of the timeless, universal meditations of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. The 112 
contemplative meditations known as both yuktis and dharanas unfold as a sacred exchange between 
the divine masculine as Shiva, or Bhairava, and the divine feminine as Shakti, or Bhairavi. This 
sacred teaching was revered by the great sages of tantra, including Kshemaraja in the 11th century 
through this last century’s yoga masters Swami Lakshman Joo, the yogini Lalita Devi, and Swami 

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra provides a way into the universal realization of divine 
embodiment that is developed fully within the tantras. Universal, sensual, very human 
experiences such as breathing, tasting, seeing, waking up, sleeping, getting angry, and making 
love become vehicles for realizing your nature. This happens at a deep level of vibration through 
the living current, spanda shakti the pulsating source of consciousness of the early Trika-Krama 
lineages of tantra that knew of the quantum wave long before modern physics. 

When I received the original draft of the Radiance Sutras from Lorin in 2006,1 was enthralled by 
such somatic kinship with his poetic interpretation of the sutras of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. I 
was already in love with the Vijnana. When I was fifteen, I’d discovered it in Paul Reps’ book Zen 
Flesh, Zen Bones. Later, I’d encountered it through the translation my root teacher, Daniel Odier, 
received from Lalita Devi, a realized yogini from Kashmir. 

Lorin’s offering reignited a flame, and knowing Lorin is like finding a rare soul friend on the 
path who also shares a great love. Lorin brings to life the revolutionary insights of the early tantras 
so that they transform the material way we continue to experience our bodies—despite living in 
the quantum age of physics, which recognizes our body as vastly composed of space and vibration. 
Lorin poetically translates the experience of spanda, “the creative vibration,” as always expanding 
and contracting, creating feelings, thoughts, or actions and then dissolving back into space. 

Attend to the skin as a subtle boundary 
Containing vastness. 

Enter that pulsing vastness 
And know there is no other but you. 


With Lorin’s blessing I have included The Radiance Sutras, along with other scholarly translations, in 
Prana Flow teacher trainings to explore the transforming effect of the sutras within the living flow 
of yoga. I offer lines of the Radiance Sutras as an invocation, during the hovering space of a mudra 
or asana, and as a meditation to end a session. They offer ways of changing stiffness into fluidity, 
replacing density with shimmering energy, transforming separation into the sacred flow satisfied 
within. Students memorize lines and other teachers integrate the sutras into their classes. The 


Radiance Sutras has become part of our living library, because you can imbibe the teachings at any 
time and feel the reverberations. As you take in the sutra, the wisdom begins to transform you 

The breath flows out with the sound sa, 

The breath flows in with the sound ha. 

Thus thousands of times a day, 

Everyone who breathes is adoring the Goddess. 

Know this, and be in great joy. 

Listen to the ongoing prayer that is breath. 

Life shall dance in you 
A dance of ever-renewing delight. 

VERSES 155-156 

In the flow of yoga, breath is the path of realization. In most contemporary yoga the bhava, or 
feeling essence, is substituted with technique. Lorin has a way of expressing the rhythm of the 
sensory somatic world and how its undulations and “song of the body” are part of the very flow of 
consciousness. The simple flow of breath, which for most modern practitioners is trapped under 
tensions and internal neglect, transforms into the most intimate connection to the sublime source. 

Be conscious of this unconscious prayer (of your breath), 

Lor She is the most holy place of pilgrimage. 

She wishes for you to enter this temple, 

Where each breath is adoration 
Of the infinite for the incarnate form. 
verse 154 

The Radiance Sutras is the culmination of forty-plus years of devotion to this sacred text, as well as 
Lorin Roche’s life experience as a beloved meditation teacher and master writer-poet. Lorin has 
brought the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra alive for a wide audience in a way similar to how Coleman 
Barks revived the poetry of the great Sufi teacher, Jelauddin Rumi. These poetic interpretations 
have brought the vibratory wisdom of the tantras to the most neglected places within Western 
embodiment, as Lorin breathes a rhythm and life to language through his own realization. He has 
opened a doorway into the tantric realization of the divya deha, the divine body, the shimmering 
flow of embodied consciousness manifesting as Shakti and returning to infinite potency as Shiva. 

It is with great celebration that this edition—complete with Sanskrit Devanagari script, 
transliteration, and pronunciation—goes out into the world. The Radiance Sutras are spreading 
across the world. Beloved musicians Dave Stringer, Donna DeLory, Denise Kaufman, and Steve 
Gold compose to these poetic truths. Lorin, with his beautiful wife Camille, have been dedicated to 
this text with their life and you can feel that in their care. 

Meditate on the Self as being Vast as the sky, a body of energy 


Extending forever in all directions. 


Your heart sees by its own light. 

In meditation, adore the subtle fire 
The light that you see by 
Is the light that comes from inside. 


May we all awaken to the inner light of the heart—the ripple effect that has immeasurable 
blessings and benefits to all. May this sacred resonance attune us all to the living sublime current. 
As the Vijnana Bhairava so eloquently invokes through Lorin, 

Being transformed by even one of these practices, 

Fullness of experience develops breath by breath. 

One day the desire of the self for the great Self 
Is consummated 

VERSE 148 

Be prepared, for you will not be the same person you were before you began reading. One of these 
sutras is enough to change a life. 


Malibu, California 
August 2014 



The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is one of the early teachings on yoga meditation. The name, loosely 
translated, means “the terror and joy of realizing oneness with the soul.” The text is only about 
two thousand words in the original Sanskrit, perhaps forty minutes of chanting, yet those few 
words describe the essence of many of the world’s meditation techniques. I call it “the Radiance 
Sutras” because it is so luminous. 

This text is part of the ancient tantras, although how ancient we cannot say exactly. The first 
written version appeared in Kashmir around AD 800. Before that, it may have been handed down 
through the oral tradition, which means that it was memorized and chanted for generations. 

In ancient texts such as the Rig Veda, the word tantra refers to the technology of weaving—“a 
loom, the warp.” There is the image of stretching or weaving threads in patterns across the 
framework of a loom. Metaphorically, a tantra is a tapestry of knowledge weaving together the 
threads of yoga technique. 

A tantra is not poetry, although it may sound that way in the original Sanskrit and in 
translation. A tantra is a manual of practices. This one is a compendium of yoga meditation 
instructions, set as a conversation between lovers. Its focus is on full-body spirituality and 
accepting every breath, sensual experience, and emotion as doorways to deep and intimate 
contact with the energies of life. 

A translation of this tantra came into my hands more than forty years ago, and I have worked 
with the methods every day since then. It has been a love affair, and I am blessed. One day I started 
to write a fresh version and it evolved into this book. 


The Bhairava Tantra is set as a conversation between the Goddess Who Is the Creative Power of the 
Universe and the God Who Is the Consciousness that Permeates Everywhere. For short, they call 
each other Devi and Bhairava, or Shakti and Shiva. They are lovers and inseparable partners, and 
one of their favorite places of dwelling is in the human heart. 

This text feels as though it were composed by a couple, a man and a woman who sang the 
verses to each other as they co-created. As was the convention of the time, the authors chose to be 
anonymous and frame the conversation as one between the Goddess and the God in them. The text 
has the feeling of one richly experienced body speaking with love to another body. 

Their inquiry is about how to enter into the vibrant essence of the world with the dual balance 


of passion and detachment. The teaching emerges from their love-play, reminding us that from 
within our own hearts we are educated in the spirit of love. They lived this teaching. The secret 
pathways in the body and the flow of delicious energies are revealed in words that one friend or 
lover would speak to another. The text invites us to be at home in the universe by accepting every 
intense experience, every sensual delight, every ordinary moment, as a gateway to the divine. 

The conversation begins with Devi asking, “Beloved, tell me, how do I enter more deeply into 
the reality of the universe?” In reply, Bhairava describes 112 techniques for becoming enlightened 
through everyday life experience. Each of these techniques is a way of attending to the rhythms, 
pulsations, and sensuousness of the divine energy that we are made of and that flows through us 
always. As we engage with these meditation techniques, we are alerted to the presence of the 
sacred that permeates our bodies. All of these methods involve savoring the incredible intensity 
underlying the most common experiences. They work by activating the senses, by extending the 
range of the senses further into the inner and the outer world. The basic dynamics of life- 
breathing, falling asleep, waking up, walking, loving—are all used as gateways to alignment and 

Each meditation is a deep dive into aliveness, into the underlying reality of what life is. Balance 
is there at every step; the unshakable serenity of the depths is used as a foundation so that we can 
tolerate the electrifying vastness of the universe. We are invited to cross the threshold, to walk by 
the guardian of the gate, to face our terrors, and make our way into the immense and timeless 
mystery that is always calling. 

Many of these meditation techniques are surprisingly informal: Notice a powerful emotion, 
sensation, or desire, and enter into that awareness with total abandon, so that you go with it right 
into the root movement of the universe. When making love, put your awareness into the flame of 
passion pulsating through the body and become that flame. Falling asleep, pay attention to the 
transition from waking consciousness to unconsciousness, and catch a glimpse of what 
consciousness itself is. Or go outside on a moonless night and simply merge with the darkness and 
vastness of space. 

The text also describes what we think of as traditional yoga meditations—ways of savoring 
breath, sound, and internal luminosity. The intimacy with the self implied in these teachings 
means that tantra is not a set of techniques imposed from outside. Rather, the method emerges 
naturally from one’s relationship with the self and with life. Lose yourself in intense experience, 
and find your Self. In this text, the word yoga is used in its etymological sense, “the act of joining, 
linking together.” Yoga is connecting —connecting all the elements and levels of your being. 

The tone of the text is playful and exploratory—jump in and feel everything. Lila is Sanskrit for 
“play,” “amusement,” and the sense that the universe has been manifested as an act of play by the 
divine. Through play, find your way. In play, find freedom, revelation, illumination. 


Taken as a whole, the teaching of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is startling in its breadth, in the 
huge range of human experience that it encompasses. It shatters the picture we have of what 
meditation is or how meditation is often presented—as a way of dissociating from the human 
experience and trying to rise above it. There is not a hint of the usual life denial that permeates and 


distorts spirituality East and West. 

This tantra is about going deeply into experience, embracing it fully, without reservation. 
Nature is embraced, as is all of human nature. Lust and passion become fires that illumine, and 
gusto is taken to its most refined degree possible. Meditation is presented as the nexus or meeting 
ground of light and matter, spirit and flesh, and the meeting is to be consummated with great joy. 
Tantric meditation is an integration of the opposites, not obliteration or mere transcendence of 
them. It is an alchemical union in which each polarity exists in its fullness and in a relationship of 
complementarity with the other. 

You’ll find here in one place many of the essential techniques utilized in meditation traditions 
the world over. If some of the experiences that the sutras describe seem familiar to you as you read 
this book, it may be because you have invented your own private meditation techniques, ones you 
probably never tell anyone about. Or you may have had inexplicable realizations in the midst of 
some life experience. 

People who come for instruction in meditation usually have one or more of these awareness 
practices vibrating in their body already, spontaneously. This is what propels them to search. 
Sutras such as these are here to remind us of what we already know. They are here to invite us to 
go more deeply into the experience of being human. 

It is likely that the same meditation techniques are invented or discovered independently 
around the world in different cultures, whenever people start paying attention to the subtle 
energies of the body. If this is true, then the Radiance Sutras is a syllabus of the types of techniques 
that could be discovered anywhere. In my experience, they are discovered and rediscovered 
continually, by all lovers of life. 


For the last twenty-five years, the text has been waking me up at four in the morning, purring 
Sanskrit in my ear and calling me to come out and play. I walk around in the predawn for a few 
hours, whispering the words of the timeless language, letting it teach me about itself. In this way, 
the Sanskrit has sung itself into modern English. 

The original Sanskrit of the Bhairava Tantra has a musical, mantric quality that massages the 
nerves like no other language I have ever heard. Sanskrit, like tantric meditation, is a union of 
opposites. The opposites embrace each other, as lovers do, as the eternally fascinating polarity of 
male and female, day and night, sun and moon. 

Sanskrit sings of rhythm, vibrancy, and the transmutation of terror into ecstasy, fear into 
movement, stasis into electricity. It evokes flow, tenderness, intimacy with oneself and the 
universe, informality, attentiveness, and responsiveness. Devi’s opening statement to Bhairava 
gets my vote for one of the most enchanting phrases I have ever heard in any language. Chant it 
softly to yourself and listen: 

shrutam deva may a sarvam rudrayamala sambhavam. 

“Beloved, I have been listening to the hymns of creation.” 


Many types of translations—academic, literary, historical, etymological—can be done of this 
tantra, and yet each conveys only a small part of its meaning. This version is a bhashantaram, a 
rendering of the text into the vernacular and a migration or reincarnation into another tongue. 

The language of the sutras is brief, meant to be read over and over. Each Sanskrit verse is only 
thirty-two syllables, intricately woven and saturated with the power of bliss (anandashakti). Just as 
all of life is interconnected, one word of Sanskrit may have a spectrum of interconnected 
meanings, encompassing the realms of meditation, music, cooking, medicine, alchemy, sex, ritual 
worship, art, dance, theater, astronomy, astrology, and mathematics. These definitions are full of 
physical images that give clues to how to practice. 

For example, the word yoga has the central meaning of “joining things together,” or “hooking 
up.” The first definition of yoga listed in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dbtbnary is “the act of 
yoking, joining, attaching, putting to (of horses).” if we look up the English phrase “putting to,” 
we see that it is a British expression for hitching up a horse, “attaching the harness to the load.” 
Yoga also means “equipping or arraying an army, fixing an arrow on the bowstring, putting on of 
armor,” and in medicine, “a remedy or cure.” Yoga can refer to any junction—in astronomy and 
astrology, a conjunction of the stars or planets; in grammar, the connection of words together; in 
arithmetic, addition, sum, total. In alchemy or chemistry, mixing different materials together is 
yoga. In spirituality, yoga can mean the union of the soul with matter, the union of the individual 
soul with the universal soul, and the disciplines that serve this union. 

If we take these images metaphorically, they are saying, “Get connected to your horsepower, 
the magic animal of your being. Arrange your forces. Put on your protection. Do the practices in a 
way that is a remedy, a cure, for you. Know the stars that guide you.” These are apt metaphors 
—yuktarupaka— for meditative experience. 


The word tantra has interesting resonances, each of which provides a vital clue to how to practice. 
The tan of tantra has a wide range of meanings, including “to extend, stretch, spread, shine.” When 
this root sound made its way West, it became ten, and we use it all the time when we say extend, 
tendon, tender, tension, entertain, intensity, and attentbn. To practice tantra is to stretch ourselves, to 
extend our capacity for attention to the utmost. Tantra is also the pattern of interconnectedness 
we discover when we practice. Tenderness is important. This text is tender in its approach to 
human experience and encourages an earthy reverence in embracing your bodily sensations. 

Tantra denotes “theory or system” and often refers to a class of texts that are set as a 
conversation between the gods and goddesses—in this case, Bhairava and Devi. The tra of tantra 
means “technique.” The same root shows up in mantra (manas, “mind,” plus tra, “skill,” means “a 
tool of thought”). 

Each verse of a tantra is called a sutra (there’s tra again), which means “thread” and is cognate 
with “sew” and “suture,” the thread that joins together. “Seam” and “couture” are also cousins of 
sutra. So with the words tantra and sutra, we are presented with images of skillfully weaving 
together all the elements of life—mind, body, emotions, breath, soul, individuality, and infinity— 
into one exquisite tapestry. (Wordplay was a major form of entertainment in the tantric tradition, 
so there are often dozens of alternate or “folk” etymologies for these words.) 


Jnana (sometimes spelled gyan ) is “knowledge, to know.” Vijnana means worldly, practical 
knowledge and skill. In this context, vi/nana refers to your “knowledge body”— vijnanamayakosha, 
the dimension of your body that is in direct practical contact with the mysteries of life. 

Life refreshes and evolves itself through a symphony of ongoing rhythms. Brains have waves, 
hearts pulsate, breath oscillates, the senses vibrate. Tantra can be thought of as attending to these 
rhythms. Breath is a rhythm, and we breathe in and out thousands of times a day. Breathing 
involves an intimate relationship between our bodies and the ocean of air within which we suspire. 
A dozen senses inform us of the rhythm, texture, and qualities in each breath. Life is always 
inviting us into a deeper relationship with breath, with the pulsing of our hearts and emotions. 


In part I, “The Radiance Sutras,” there are three forms of Sanskrit included with each sutra. The 
first form is Devanagari, which looks like this: 


The second form is a transliteration into Roman letters with diacritical marks to indicate 


The third form of Sanskrit given is just the raw individual words, spelled out phonetically to give a 
rough approximation of the pronunciation: 

daamaantah kshobha sambhootah sookshma agnih daka akritim 

There are two numbers for most of the verses. The number accompanying the Sanskrit 
transliteration is the verse number, from 1 to 162. Devi and Bhairava banter for 23 verses, and then 
verse 24 marks the beginning of the “112 yogas”—meditations, techniques, known in Sanskrit as 
yuktis or dharanas. These yuktis are also numbered, from 1 to 112. 

You can follow the yukti numbers to their counterparts in part II, “Invitations and 
Illuminations.” There I unpack some of the juiciest Sanskrit words to shed additional light on each 
meditation, as a way of allowing you to explore that technique more deeply. 


The Radiance Sutras is a text to savor one phrase at a time, over a period of days or years. The 
verses are designed so you can read or listen to them for a lifetime and have a new revelation every 
day. Each of the meditations is meant to be experienced many times under many different 


conditions. As you become familiar with the practices, you will discover the tactile luminosity and 
improvisational music of your inner world. As your internal senses become more alert, doorway 
after doorway will open to you. 

The text wants to be thought and spoken in English as well as Sanskrit—whispered, chanted, 
delighted in, and danced. I am letting the text sing itself back into the spoken word. The sutras 
remember they were once songs —caryagita, songs of realization. Experiment with reading them 
out loud to yourself or to another person. 

The language is crafted so that you may be able to recognize your own innate spiritual 
experience and have a flash of recognition. The Bhairava Tantra is a love song between energy and 
consciousness or Shakti and Shiva, and the musical and mantric impulses of their creativity are 
pulsing in us always. These verses are an invitation to wake up to the marvelous symphony within 
and around us. 

When you discover one sutra that resonates deeply, memorize it. Then you will, as they say, 
know it by heart. Something happens in the body when you can say a sutra out loud or quietly to 
yourself. There is a relaxation, an ease and confidence, when you can rest your attention inside a 
sutra and the words flow effortlessly. 

Tantric texts want to be performed. They are not comfortable being hidden in books. Any time 
you read a phrase tenderly and let yourself be carried away, even for a minute, you are performing 
a sacred act, offering your attention to the mystery of being alive. 

The sutras tend to lay the groundwork for each other, but you don’t have to go through them 
in sequence. Some of the techniques will speak to you now, and others will only have meaning 
after you have explored them for a while. When I began meditating, the techniques in the first few 
sutras and one in the middle kept me busy for a year. Your pace may be faster or slower. 

One way to explore the text is to pick one technique—whichever one strikes you—and practice 
it for three months. Give it time to work. Then read the sutras again and see if it is time to move on 
or to include another technique in addition to the one that you have been doing. The “Invitations 
and Illuminations” section following the sutras gives some tips for going deeper into the exquisite 
world of these practices. The text says that if you go deeply into even one of these ways of 
experience, making it your own over time, you will awaken. 

Meditation is sambhava, intimacy with what you love about life. Take one thing and go deeper 
and deeper into it. Dive into your entire sensorium so fearlessly that you go beyond it into the core 
of your being and rest there. 

Love calls our attention and engages us. When we give love our tender attention, we are in the 
realm of tantra. Life is a mysterious, self-renewing process. The techniques of meditation are ways 
of allowing the ecstasy of the life-force at play to renew our bodies and souls. Ask your body to 
teach you and to take you on adventures into intimacy with your own essence. This is the yoga of 
wonder and delight. 




vijnana bhairava tantra 


Banter Verses 

The Bhairava Tantra is framed as a conversation between lovers, Devi and Bhairava. Devi is the 
Creative Energy permeating the universe. Her nature is power, strength, and might. Bhairava is 
the infinite consciousness that embraces her. 

In the initial verses, Devi is speaking from within her awe at existence. She assumes the body of 
a seeker of truth and dares Bhairava to reveal to her the secrets of yoga. Rising to the occasion, 
Bhairava accepts her questions as beautiful and invites her to accompany him on the path of 
intimacy with all life. In verses 1-23, they converse back and forth in this way. 


Banter Verses 1-2 


^ inn ^ ^^1 wd'H «i i 

tw^kR^T ^TKTTHRf^TFTSJ: ||? || 

ST^nfr T ^rft 4 TTkjT [ 
^r Tf^ETt^ aratoiwi; |R || 

sri devyuvaca | 

srutam deva maya sarvam rudrayamala sambhavam | 
trika bhedam asesena sarat sara vibhagasah || 11| 
adyapi na nivrtto me samsayah paramesvara 
kirn rupam tattvato deva sabda rasi kala may am 11 2 11 

shree devee uvaacha 

shrutam deva mayaa sarvam rudrayaa-mala sam-bhavam 
trka-bhedam a-sheshena saaraat-saara-vi-bhaagashah 
adya apina ni-vrito me sam-shayahparama-eeshvara 
kirn roopam tattvatah deva shabda-raashi kalaamayam 


One day the Goddess sang to her lover, Bhairava: 

Beloved and radiant lord of the space before birth, 
Revealer of essence, 

Slayer of the ignorance that binds us, 

You who in play have created this universe 
And permeated all forms in it 
With never-ending truth, 

I have been wondering... 

I have been listening to the hymns of creation, 
Enchanted by the verses, 

Yet still I am curious. 

What is this delight-filled universe 
Into which we find ourselves born? 

What is this mysterious awareness 
Shimmering everywhere within it? 


Banter Verses 3-4 

^ TT ^lten?#i( IN II 


kim va navatma bhedena bhairave bhairavakrtau | 
trisirobheda bhinnam va kim va sakti trayatmakam 11 3 11 
nada bindu mayam vapi kim candrardha nirodhikah | 
cakrarudham anackarh va kim va sakti svarupakam 11 4 11 

kim vaa nava-aatma-bhedena bhairave bhairava-aakritau 
tri-shirah-bheda-abhinnam vaa kim vaa shakti-tri-aatmakam 
naada-bindu-mayam vaa apikim chandra-ardha-ni-rodhikaah 
chakra-aa-roodham anachkam vaa kim vaa shakti-sva-roopakam 


I have been listening to the love songs of 
Form longing for formless. 

What are these energies 
Undulating through our bodies, 

Pulsing us into action? 

And this “matter” out of which our forms are made— 
What are these dancing particles 
Of condensed radiance? 


Banter Verses 5-6 


TTm ^ dgoKi!^IMI 

^ ^ T G ffr‘ i ^ T T TT | 


paraparayah sakalama parayasca va punah | 
paraya yadi tad vatsyat paratvam tad virudhyate 11 5 11 
na hi varna vibhedena dehabhedena va bhavet | 
paratvam niskalatvena sakalatve na tad bhavet || 6 11 
prasadam kuru me natha nihsesam chinddhi samsayam | 

para-a-paraayaah sakalam a-parayaah cha vaa punah 
paraayaa yadi tat vatsyaat paratvam tat vi-rudhyate 
na hivama-vi-bhedena deha-bhedena vaa bhavet 
paratvam nish-kalatvena sakalatve na tat bhavet 
pra-saadam kuru me naatha 
nih-shesham chhindhisam-shayam 


What is this power we call Life, 

Appearing as the play of flesh and breath? 

How may I know this mystery and enter it more deeply? 

My attention is enthralled by a myriad of forms, 
Innumerable individual entities everywhere, 

Flashing into existence and fading away again. 

Lead me into the wholeness beyond all these parts. 

Do me a favor, my love. 

Let me rest in your embrace. 

Refresh me with the elixir of your wisdom. 

Ravish me with your truth. 


Banter Verses 7-9 

# | 

^ 1 % HTy r^TT ^ ’d'-^VH I ^ ||vs|| 

^flWTTT cPTT^ $ | 

^frd^^<bd y^fddH ||d || 

s % p 

TTFTTW^R ift rpq^ronrR \\% II 

bhairava uvaca | 

sadhu sadhu tvayaprstam tantra saram idam priye || 7 || 
guha niyatamam bhadre tathapi kathayami te | 
yat kincit sakalam rupambhairavasya praklrtitam || 8 || 
tad asara taya devi vijneyam sakrajalavat | 
maya svapnopamam caiva gandharva nagara bhramam 11 9 11 

bhairava uvaacha 

saadhu saadhu tvayaa prishtam tantra-saaram idam priye 
gooha-neeyatamam bhadre tatha apikathayaamite 
yat kinchit sakalam roopam bhairavasya pra-keertitam 
tat a-saaratayaa devivirjneyam shakrajaalavat 
maayaa-svapna-upamam cha eva gandharva-nagara-bhramam 


Bhairava replies, 

Beloved, your questions 
Touch the heart of wonder, 

The path of intimacy with all life— 

Weaving together body and soul, 

Sex and spirit, individuality and universality. 

This is my Cave of Secrets. 

Your inquiry has led you here. 

I feel your fingers on my pulse. 

Come with me. 

Leave behind everything you know. 

The teachings about me are 
A light show put on by the celestial musicians, 
As beautiful and insubstantial as clouds. 


Banter Verses 10-12 

g^ft i^hih h?°ii 

cTr^cfr T ^TcTOft ^T^TTf^TT ^T ^T: | 

H SfM =T | 

^ rl^sb^P^Nt -T *r : HR I! 

dhyanartham bhranta buddhinam kriyadambara vartinam | 
kevalam varnitam pumsam vikalpa nihatatmanam || 10 || 
tattvato na navatmasau sabda rasir na bhairavah | 
na casau trisira devo na ca sakti trayatmakah || 111| 
nada bindu mayo vapi na candrardha nirodhikah | 
na cakra krama sambhinno na ca sakti svarupakah || 12 || 

dhyaana-artham bhraanta- buddheenaam 

kevalam varnitam pumsaam vtkalpa-ni-hataa-aatmanaam 
tattvato na nava-aatmaasau shabda-raashih na bhairavah 
na cha asau tri-shiraa-devah na cha shakti-tri-aatmakah 
naada-bindu-mayah vaa apina chandra-ardha-nirodhikaah 
na chakra-krama-sambhinah na cha shakti-sva-roopakah 


Elaborate rituals and garish images 

May be useful in meditation when your mind is whirling with thoughts 
Of sex, money, and power, wandering like an elephant in heat. 

Go ahead and use these tools, yet know, 

Beating drums and blaring trumpets 

Cannot summon the One who is already present. 

I am not a collection of incantations 
Known only to experts. 

I am not a ladder to be climbed, 

A sequence for piercing energy centers in your body. 

I am not to be found at the end of a long road. 

I am right here. 


Banter Verses 13-14 


3Rfr«rr w^: \\u\\ 

aprabuddha matinarh hi eta bala vibhisikah | 
matr modakavat sarvam pravrtty artham udahrtam || 13 || 
dik kala kalanonmukta desoddesa visesini | 
vyapadestum asakyasav akathya paramarthatah || 14 || 

aprabuddha-mateenaam hietaa baala-vi-bheeshkaah 
maatri-modakavat sarvam pravritti-artham ud-aahriam 
dk-kaala-kalanah un-muktaa deshah ud-deshaa a-vi-sheshinee 
vi-apa-deshtum a-shakya asau a-kathyaa parama-arthatah 


All the stories about me 

Are like tales you tell naughty children— 

The goblin is going to come gobble you up! 
Or else soothing fables mothers spin 
As they hand out sweets. 

Leave these fantasies behind. 

Let me tell you of the luminous path. 

I am beyond measure. I cannot be calculated. 
I am beyond space and time. 

I am beyond ancient and beyond the future. 
There are no directions to me. 


Banter Verses 15-16 

RcbHV^+dJiWl | 

WfcwMtoH: ||?HII 

dvqdl RhcH ^ s £njT u T T [ I 


antah svanubhavananda vikalponmukta gocara | 
yavastha bharitakara bhairavi bhairavatmanah || 15 || 
tad vapus tattvato jneyam vimalam visva puranam | 
evam vidhe pare tattve kah pujyah kasca trpyati || 16 11 

antah sva-anuhhava aanandaa vi-kalpah un-muktah gocharaa 
yaa ava-sthaa bharita-aakaaraa bhairavee bhairava-aatmanah 
tad vapuh tattvatahjneyam vi-malam vishva-pooranam 
evam vidhe pare tattve kah poojyah kah cha tripyate 


I am always here. 

I am the embrace 

Of your most intimate experience. 

Though I am beyond the intellect, 

I am not beyond your daring. 

I am the nourishing state of fullness 
That is the essence of soul. 

You belong to me, and I am yours. 

My nature is spotless, completely uncontaminated. 
I am not covered up, not even by a billion galaxies. 
So who is there to worship and adore? 

There is no one to appease. 


Banter Verses 17-19 

qn^yc^iddl li?vs|l 
^T^aT^rRRftT ^T U^\: \ 

3RRT^faRr^lIrq4I ^T^tT: ||?d|| 

^ #T <* ll?ch I Sjfec ^IdRVd I f^TT^ | 
fer sTRWFTR RTT«Trs^FT Slt^ || ? ^ || 

evarh vidha bhairavasya yavastha parigiyate | 
sa para pararupena para devi prakirtita || 17 || 
sakti saktimator yadvad abhedah sarvada sthitah | 
atas tad dharma dharmitvat para saktih paratmanah 1118 11 
na vahner dahika saktir vyatirikta vibhavyate | 
kevalamjnana sattayam prarambho'yam pravesane || 19 || 

evam vidhaa bhairavasya yaa ava-sthaa pari-geeyate 
saa para-apara-roopena paraa-devee pra-keertitaa 
shakti-shaktimatohyad vat abhedah sarvadaa sthitah 
atah tat dharma-dharmitvaat paraa-shaktih paraa-aatmanah 
na vanheh daahikaa-shaktih vi-ati-riktaa vi-bhaavyate 
kevalam-jnaana-sattaayaam praa-rambhah ayam pra-veshane 


Sacred texts sing of my reality, 

But I cannot be found in them, 

For I am the one listening. 

I am always closer than breath. 

Heat and fire are not two separate things. 
These are just verbal distinctions. 

The Goddess and the One who holds Her 
Are one and the same. 

We are inseparable. 

The way to me is through Her. 


Banter Verses 20-21 

^ m \ ir° n 

ftwrRH^-HifcK'W *T I 
5TF^ M^T^TITTR tfpSRTTr RTT ^ |R?|| 

sakty avastha pravistasya nirvibhagena bhavana | 
tadasau siva rupi syat saivi mukham ihocyate || 20 || 
yathalokena dipasya kiranair bhaskarasya ca | 
jnayate digvibhagadi tadvac chaktya sivah priye || 211| 

shakti-avasthaa-pravishtasya nir-vi-bhaagena bhaavanaa 
tadaa asau shiva-roopee syaat shaivee-mukham ha uchyate 
yathaa aa-lokena deepasya kiranah bhaaskarasya cha 
jnaayate dk-vhhaaga aadi tad vat shaktyaa shivah priye 


I am everywhere, infusing everything. 
To find me, 

Become absorbed in intense experience. 
Go all the way. 

Be drenched in the energies of life. 

Enter the world beyond separation. 

The light of a candle reveals a room. 

The rays of the sun reveal the world. 

So does the divine feminine 
Illumine the way to me. 


Banter Verses 22-23 



d^u| | 

f^tsa^TcT^T F 53^%^|RctRid I IR.RII 

FTcnOT ^R'dl^RI' I 

3TT^T ^pT cTTT TTT ^T^TT | 


sri devy uvaca | 

deva deva trisulanka kapala krta bhusana | 
dig desa kala sunya ca vyapadesa vivarjita || 22 11 
yavastha bharita kara bhairavasyopalabhyate | 
kair up ay air mukharh tasya para devi katham bhavet | 
yatha samyag aham vedmi tatha me bruhi bhairava || 23 || 

shree devee uvaacha 

deva deva tri-shoola-anka kapaala-krita-bhooshana 
dig-desha-kaala-shoonya cha vtapa-desha-vi-varjitaa 
yaa ava-sthaa bharitaa-kaaraa bhairavasya upa-labhyate 
kah upaayaih mukham tasya para-devee katham bhavet 
yathaa samyak aham vedmi tathaa me broohi bhairava 


She Who Shines Everywhere sings, 

You who hold the mysteries in your hand— 
Of will, knowledge, and action— 

Reveal to me this path of illumined knowing. 

I long to merge with you, 

Be filled with your nourishing essence. 

Lead me into joyous union 
With the life of the universe, 

That I may know it fully, 

Realize it deeply, 

And breathe in luminous truth. 


Yukti Verses 

In the body of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, Bhairava articulates 112 yuktis, or yoga meditation 
practices, for opening to the divine mystery within everyday experience. 

The practices begin in verse 24 and continue to verse 135. The wide variety of techniques allows 
each individual to find their doorway into wonder, astonishment, and delight. 



vkM Klljd H WTO ^feTT |R*|| 

sri bhairava uvaca | 

urdhve prano hyadho jivo visargatma paroccaret | 
utpatti dvitaya sthane bharanad bharita sthitih || 241| 

shree bhairava uvaacha 

oordhve praano hiadhasjeevah visarga-aatmaa paraa ud-charet 
ut-patti-dvitaya-sthaane bharanaad bharitaa-sthitih 

The One Who Is Intimate to All Beings replies, 

Beloved, your questions require the answers that come 
Through direct living experience. 

The way of experience begins with a breath, 

Such as the breath you are breathing now. 

Awakening into luminous reality 
May dawn in the momentary throb 
Between any two breaths. 

Exhaling, breath is released and flows out. 

There is a pulse as it turns to flow in. 

In that turn, you are empty. 

Enter that emptiness as the source of all life. 

Inhaling, breath flows in, filling, nourishing. 

Just as it turns to flow out, 

There is a flash of pure joy— 

Life is renewed. 



cf^: R<^ 

maruto'ntar bahir vapi viyad yugmanivartanat | 
bhairavya bhairavasyettham bhairavi vyajyate vapuh || 25 || 

marutah antah bahih vaa apiviyat-yugma-anivartanaat 
bhairavyaa bhairavasya frtham bhairavi vi-ajyate vapuh 

Radiant One, 

The life essence carries on its play 
Through the pulsing rhythm 
Of outward and inward movement. 

This is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of life— 
Terrifying in its eternity, exquisite in its constancy. 

The inhalation, the return movement of breath, 
Sustains life. 

The outgoing breath 
Purifies life. 

These are the two poles 

Between which respiration goes on unceasingly. 
Between them is every delight you could desire. 

Even when the senses are turned outward, 

Your attention on the external world, 

Attend also to the inner throb, 

The pulsing of the creative impulse within you. 



^ ^ f^ttRrK ^R’SPTT |Rkl | 

W toMI |R$: || 

na vrajen na visec chaktir marud rupa vikasite | 
nirvikalpataya madhye taya bhairava rupata || 26 

na vrajet na vishet shaktih marut-roopa vi-kaasie 
nir-vi-kalpatayaa madhe tayaa bhairava-roopataa 

Enter these turning points, 

Where the rhythms of life transform 
Into each other. 

Breath flows in, filling, filling, 

In this moment, drink eternity. 

Breath flows out, emptying, emptying, 
Offering itself to infinity. 

Cherishing these moments, 

Mind dissolves into heart, 

Heart dissolves into space, 

Body becomes a vibrating field, 

Pulsating between fullness and emptiness. 



Sfl^TT STF^T: |R\S I! 

kumbhita recita vapi purita va yada bhavet | 
tad ante santa namasau saktya santah prakasate || 271| 

kumbhiaa rechitaa vaa apipooritaayaayadaa bhavet 
tadante shanta naama-asau shaktyaa shantahpra-kaashate 

At the end of the exhale, 

Breath surrenders to quietude. 

For a moment you hang in the balance— 

In the fertile spaciousness 
That is the source of breath. 

At the end of the inhale, 

Filled with the song of the breath, 

There is a moment when you are simply 
Holding the tender mystery. 

In these interludes, 

Experience opens into exquisite vastness 
With no beginning and no end. 

Embrace this infinity without reservation. 
You are its vessel. 



f*hd*foi IgtldcM^ IRC 

amulat kiranabhasam suksmat suksmataratmikam | 
cintayet tarn dvisatkante syamyantim bhairavodayah || 28 || 

aa-moolaat kirana-aa-bhaasaam sookshmaat sookshma-tara-aatmkam 
chintayet taam dvi-shat kaante shaam-yanteem bhairava-udayah 

Follow the path of the life force 

As she flashes upward like lightning 
Through your body. 

Attend simultaneously 

To the perineum, that bright place 
Between the legs, 

To the crown of the skull, 

And to that shining star-place 
Above the head. 

Notice this living current 
Becoming ever more subtle as she rises, 

Radiant as the morning sun, 

Until she streams outward from the top of the head 
Into all-embracing gratitude. 

Thus become intimate with the life of all beings. 



iJIcj^lcj^^T^feT: ||^ || 

udgac chantim tadit rupam praticakram kramat kramam | 
urdhvam mustitrayamyavat tavad ante mahodayah || 29 || 

ud-gachchhanteem tadi-roopam prati-chakram-kramaat-kramam 
oordhvam mushti-trayamyaavat taavad ante mahaa-udayah 

Trace the river of life that flows through you, 
The luxuriously rising energies, 

Gradually touching each of the centers 
Along the spine. 

Savor every shimmer of color along the way. 

Enter each area tenderly, 

Loving as you go, 

Finally, gently, 

Dissolving in the crown of the head. 

Then above, 

In the space above the head, 

The great dawn. 



^t^T ^t^FcTcT: RtR: J|3° || 

krama dvadasakam samyag dvadasaksara bheditam | 
sthula suksma parasthitya muktva muktvantatah sivah || 30 || 

kramah dvaa-dashakam samyak dvaa-dasha-akshara-bhediam 
sthoola-sookshma-para-sthityaa muktva-amuktvaa-antatah shivah 

Let your attention glide 

Through the centers of awareness along the spine 
With adoring intent. 

There is a song to each area of the body. 
Resonating in sweet vortices, 

Long rhythmic vowels and hums, 

Ah... and... eee ... ommmm... hummmm... 
Resounding on and on. 

Find the harmonies 

Emanating from the circulation of life energies. 

Listen to these as sounds, 

Then more subtly, as an underlying hum. 
Eventually as most subtle feeling. 

Then diving more deeply, 

Dissolve into freedom. 



JR: fc^T HA? II 

taya puryasu murdhantarh bhanktva bhru ksepa setuna | 
nirvikalpam manah krtva sarvordhve sarvagodgamah || 311| 

tayaa pooryaashu moordha-antam bhanktvaa broo-kshepa-setunaa 
nir-vi-kalpam-manas kritvaa sarva-oordhve sarva-gah ud-gamah 

Rest the attention easily in the forehead, 

In the eye that is made of light. 

Cherish the delicate energies glowing there. 

Allow attention to inquire upwards, into the 
Radiant space above the head. 

The small self enters delicious omnipresence. 
This it remembers and knows as its truth. 

Gradually the luminosity of that truth 
Fills the body to overflowing 
As it rises through the crown of the head 
Into a shower of light. 



e-MWdlS^ ^ ^fr ^ *ftcf ||3R || 

sikhi paksais citra rupair mandalaih sunya pancakam | 
dhyayato'nuttare sunye praveso hrdaye bhavet || 32 || 

shikhi-pakshah chira-roopah mandalaih shoonya-panchakam 
dhyaayatah an-uttare shoonye pra-veshah hridaye bhavet 

The senses declare an outrageous world— 

Sounds and scents, ravishing colors and shapes, 
Ever-changing skies, iridescent reflections— 

All these beautiful surfaces 
Decorating vibrant emptiness. 

The god of love is courting you, 

Light as a feather. 

Every perception is an invitation into revelation. 
Hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching— 
Ways of knowing creation, 

Transmissions of electric realization. 

The deepest reality is always right here. 

Encircled by splendor, in the center of the sphere, 
Meditate where the body thrills 
To currents of intimate communion. 

Follow your senses to the end and beyond 
Into the heart of space. 



idrsena kramenaivayatra kutrapi cintana | 
sunye kudye pare patre svayam lina vara prada || 33 || 

eedrishena kramena evayatra kutra apichintanaa 
shoonye kudye pare paatre svayam-leenaa vara-pradaa 

The journey begins here, 

With whatever is capturing your attention. 

Are you gazing at the patterns on some wall? 
Are you daydreaming about a celebrity? 

Is there someone you love and long to cling to, 
Disappear into, a soul who is a chalice for 
Beauty to pour into the world? 

Whatever your focus, 

Give your whole being. 

Gradually, step by step, 

The infinity from which you both have emerged 
Will encompass you with blessing. 



4lG^fcd8H^lcd^'H 3WT ||3* || 

kapalantar mano nyasya tisthan milita locanah | 
kramena manaso dardhyat laksayet lasyam uttamam || 34 || 

kapaala-antah manas nyasya tishthat meelita-lochanah 
kramena manasah daardhyaat lakshayet lakshyam uttamam 

Inside the skull there is a place 
Where the essences of creation play and mingle— 
The ecstatic light of awareness 
And the awareness of that light. 

The divine feminine and masculine 
Sport with one another in that place. 

The light of their love-play illumines all space. 

Rest in that light 
Ever present, and gradually 
Awaken into the steady joy of 
That which is always everywhere. 



Id KcI^Th^I ^TT tTRT R^lATcf j|^ || 

madhya nadi madhya samstha bisa sutrabha rupaya | 
dhyatantar vyoma ya devya taya devah prakasate || 35 11 

madhya-naadee madhya-samsthaa bisa-sootrabha-roopayaa 
dhyaataa antar-vyomayaa devyaa tayaa devah pra-kaashate 

There is a current of love-energy that flows 
Between Earth below and Sun above. 

The central channel of your spine is the riverbed. 
The streaming is as delicate and powerful 
As the tingling touch of lovers. 

Entering here, 

Radiance arches between above and below. 

Your whole attention resting in the subtle, 
Vibrating in the center of the spinal column, 
Tracing this current between Earth and Sun, 
Become magnetism relating all the worlds. 



pRtSRRT | 


kara ruddha drg astrena bhru bhedad dvara rodhanat | 
drste bindau kramal line tan madhye parama sthitih || 36 || 

kara-ruddha-drish-astrena broo-bhedaad dvaara-rodhanaat 
dirshte bindau kramaat leene tad-madhye paramaa-sthitih 

Lift your hands, and with a gesture, 

Turn aside all the forces of the outer world. 
Attend to the vibrancy within. 

Let the fingers lightly touch and bless 
Eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, 

All the entrances to the head. 

Invite attention to be within the skin, and 
Cherish the quiet shimmer of vital energies. 

When you notice an inner gateway, 

Enter with love, as one coming home. 

As the surge of light-substance rises 

Follow it up into the space between the eyebrows, 

Where it breaks out as an orgasm of light. 



iRiftH* if i 

^TFRTtcPT: PV9 || 

dhamantah ksobha sambhuta suksmagni tilakakrtim | 
bindum sikhante hrdaye layante dhyayato layah || 37 || 

daaman-antah kshobha-sam-bhootah sookshma-agnih tilaka-akritim 
bindum shikhaante hridaye layaante dhyaayatah layah 

When you close your eyes, 

Attention turns toward the inner glow. 
The heart sees by its own light, 

Pulsing with subtle flame. 

In your forehead is a single eye. 

Here streams of living electricity 
Flow together. 

The body of substance 

And the body of light fuse into one. 

Above your head a star is shining— 

The soul, luminous in its own realm. 

Life arises from itself 

In a swirling motion of flame. 

Being becomes body. 

In meditation, adore the subtle fire— 

In heart, head, and above. 

Dissolve into radiance. 



3FT1# M MchOfs^ajo^ | 


pjfcund: WT ||^ || 

anahate patra karne'bhagna sabde sarid drute | 
sabda brahmani nisnatah param brahmadhigaccati 11 38 11 

an-aahate paatra-kame a-bhagna-shabde sari-drute 
shabha-brahmaninish-naatah param-brahma adhi-gachchhati 

Bathe deeply in that ocean of sound 
Vibrating within you, now as always, 
Resonating softly, 

Permeating the space of the heart. 

The ear that is tuned by rapt listening 
Learns to hear the song of creation. 

First like a hand bell, 

Then subtler, like a flute, 

Subtler still as a stringed instrument, 
Eventually as the buzz of a bee. 

Entering this current of sound, 

The Listening One 

Forgets the external world, becomes 
Absorbed into internal sound, 

Then absorbed in vastness, 

Like the song of the stars as they shine. 



^MHid | 

aj^rqr tot smtot im ll 

pranavadi samuccarat plutante sunya bhavanat | 
sunyaya paraya saktya sunyatam eti bhairavi 11 39 

pra-nava aadi-sam-ud-chaaraat plutaante shoonya-bhaavanaat 
shoonyayaa parayaa shaktyaa shoonyataam eti bhairavi 

The roar of joy that set the worlds in motion 
Is reverberating in your body 
And the space between all bodies. 

Beloved, listen. 

Find that exuberant vibration 
Rising new in every moment, 

Humming in your secret places, 

Resounding through the channels of delight. 
Know you are flooded by it always. 

Float with the sound. 

Melt with it into divine silence. 

The sacred power of space will carry you 
Into the dancing radiant emptiness 
That is the source of all. 

The ocean of sound is inviting you 
Into its spacious embrace, 

Calling you home. 



TOT cfrHilft ^FT 31^TT^T 1 

^T^frS#^IchR: JJTFT*l3cT ||^ || 

yasya kasyapi varnasya purvantav anubhavayet | 
sunyaya sunya bhuto'sau sunyakarah puman bhavet || 40 || 

yasya kasya apivarnasya poorva-antau anu-bhaavayet 
shoonyayaa shoonya-bhootah asau shoonya-aakaarah pumaan bhavet 

Think of any vowel—they are all delicious. 
Savor the sound with infinite gentleness. 
Attend to where it comes from within you 
And where it goes to when it fades away. 

Listen to the subtle, ever-changing tones, 

Layer upon layer. 

Discover what gradualness is. 

The power of sound will lead you 
Into the power of silence. 

Syllables are born from space, 

Resonate in space, then melt into spaciousness. 
Know this silent spaciousness as your Self. 



|Rd | I 
3H^di: mF$ ^T li v? II 

tantry adi vadya sabdesu dirghesu krama samsthiteh | 
ananya cetah pratyante para vyoma vapur bhavet 11 4111 

tantriaadivaadya-shabdeshu deergheshu krama-sam-sthiteh 
ananya-chetaah prati-ante para-vyoma vapuh bhavet 

Immerse yourself in the rapture of music. 
You know what you love. Go there. 

Tend to each note, each chord, 

Rising up from silence and dissolving again. 

Vibrating strings draw us 

Into the spacious resonance of the heart. 

The body becomes light as the sky 
And you, one with the Great Musician, 

Who is even now singing us 
Into existence. 



TORT 5 | 

pinda mantrasya sarvasya sthula varna kramena tu | 
ardhendu bindu nadantah sunyoccarad bhavec chivah 11 42 11 

pinda-mantrasya sarvasya sthoola-vama-kramena tu 
ardha-indu-bindu-naada-antah shoonyah ud-chaaraat bhavet shivah 

Bodies feed on sound. 

Sonic waves on inner waters 
Nourish every nerve. 

Vibration strengthens bones. 

Ecstatic undulation awaits you. 

Take a bite of crunchy K, slippery S, a rugged Rrrr. 
Enjoy a yummy vowel— ah, ee, oo, or uu. 

Throw it in a bowl of Mmmm. 

Treasure the impact on your tongue— 

Kreem, Shreem, Raam, Yumm, Hreem, Laam. 
Pronounce a sound out loud, then whisper softly. 
Now hear with your inner ear. 

Allow the resonance to enchant you within. 

The sound goes on resounding, continuing of itself. 
As the hum dissolves into silence, 

Be nurtured 

In the tenderness of infinite space. 




nija dehe sarva dikkarh yugapad bhavayed viyat | 
nirvikalpa manas tasya viyat sarvam pravartate || 43 

ni-ja-dehe sarva-dikkam yuga-pad bhaavayet viyat 
nir-vi-kalpa-manaah tasya viyat sarvam pra-vartate 

The radiance of space permeates the body 
And all directions simultaneously. 

Space is always here, 

Already here before your noticing of it. 

What we call space is a presence, 
Permission to exist, 

And worlds within which to express. 

Without thinking about it, 

Without forming mental images, 

Rest in this vast expanse, 

Friends with infinity. 




prsta sunyam mula sunyam yugapad bhavayec ca yah | 
sarira nirapeksinya saktya s tiny a mana bhavet 11 44 11 

prishtha-shoonyam moola-shoonyamyuga-pad bhaavayet chayah 
shareera nir-a-pekshinyaa shaktyaa shoonya-manaa bhavet 

Your back is a gateway to the sky. 

The celestial dance, 

The story of space and time, 

Is coded in the spine. 

Attend simultaneously 

To the area around your tailbone, 

Vibrating with luminous space, 

And to the spine as a channel 
Gushing with radiant emptiness. 


Where particles flash in and out of existence, 
Is the origin of mind. 




fm PlRcb^rcllH FhR^^I^ m cTcf: II^HII 

prsta sunyarh mula sunyarh hrc chunyam bhavayet sthiram | 
yugapan nirvikalpa tvan nirvikalpodayas tatah || 45 11 

prishtha-shoonyam moola-shoonyam hrid-shoonyam bhaavayet sthiram 
yuga-pat nir-vi-kalpa tvaat nir-vi-kalpah udayah tatah 

Behind the spine is infinity. 

Below the perineum, 

Invisible pulsating roots 
Open downward into space. 

The heart is wide as a spiral galaxy. 

Steadily consider 
Back, root, heart, 

And know the living body of vastness 
That you are. 



<T^Sr ^rrn^ l 

tanu dese sunyataiva ksana matram vibhavayet | 
nirvikalpam nirvikalpo nirvikalpa svarupa bhak || 461| 

tanoo-deshe shoonyataa eva kshana-maatram vi-bhaavayet 
nir-vi-kalpam nir-vi-kalpah nir-vi-kalpa sva-roopa-bhaaj 

Forget all of your ideas about the body— 
It’s this way or it’s that way. 

Just be with any area of it, 

This present body, 

As permeated with limitless space, 
Drenched in freedom. 




sarvam deha gatarh dravyam viyad vyaptam mrgeksane | 
vibhavayet tatas tasya bhavana sa sthira bhavet || 47 || 

sarvam deha-gatam dravyam viyat-vi-aaptam mriga-eekshane 
virbhaavayet tatas tasya bhaavanaa saa sthiraa bhavet 

This body is made of earth and gold, 

Sky and stars, rivers and oceans, 

Masquerading as muscle and bone. 

Every substance is here: 

Diamonds and silver, magical elixirs, 

Ambrosia that gives visions, 

Herbs that nourish and heal. 

The foundation of the planet, 

Immortal magnetic iron, 

Circulating in the blood. 

Every element in you loves the others: 

Earth loves rain, sky loves sun, 

Sun loves the space it shines through, 

Space loves everyone equally. 

In meditation, luxuriate in knowing this deep and simple truth. 
Every cell is an organ of sense 
Infused with majesty. 



f^frRcT RRki^ I 
cTFT ^F^mWT IIVdl! 

dehantare tvag vibhagam bhitti bhutarh vicintayet | 
na kincid antare tasya dhyayan na dhyeya bhag bhavet 11 48 

deha-antare tvak-vi-bhaagam bhitti-bhootam vtchintayet 
na kinchit antare tasya dhyaayam na dhyeya bhaaj bhavet 

Attend to the skin 
As a subtle boundary 
Containing vastness. 

Enter that pulsing immensity. 

Discover that you are not separate 
From anything there. 

There is no inside, 

There is no outside, 

There is no other— 

No object to meditate upon that is not you. 



pJTcFRT HcHIhI^T: | 

hrdyakase nilinaksah padma samputa madhya gah | 
ananya cetah subhage param saubhagyam apnuyat || 49 || 

hridya-aakaashe nfleena-akshah padma-sam-puta-madhya-gah 
an-anya-chetaah su-bhage param sau-bhaagyam aapnuyaat 

The One Who Is at Play Everywhere says, 

There is a space in the heart where everything meets. 
Come here if you want to find me. 

Mind, senses, soul, eternity—all are here. 

Are you here? 

Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart. 

Listen to the song that is always resonating. 

Give yourself to it with total abandon. 

Quiet ecstasy is here, 

And a steady, regal sense 
Of resting in a perfect spot. 

You who are the embodiment of blessing, 

Once you know the way, 

The nature of attention will call you to return. 

Again and again, answer that call, 

And be saturated with knowing, 

“I belong here, I am at home.” 



Tm: FTSRk^TgT^TFrT Id | 

^hjjt SRcft' im°|| 

sarvatah svasarirasya dvadasante manolayat | 
drdha buddher drdhi bhutarh tattva laksyam pravartate 11 50 11 

sarvatah sva-shareerasya dvaa-dasha-ante mano-layaat 
dridha-buddheh dridhee-bhootam tattva-lakshyam pra-vartate 

Put attention into the luminous connections 
Between the centers of the body, 

Where the mind loves to dissolve. 

Base of the spine and top of the head. 

Genitals and heart. 

Heart and throat. 

Throat and forehead. 

Forehead and crown of the skull. 

Enter that glowing net of light 
With a focus born of awe, 

And even your bones will know enlightenment. 



^T^TT cT^TT m gT^II'c! *PT: | 

mm ^&mv ^r iw 11 

yatha tatha yatra tatra dvadasante manah ksipet | 
prati ksanarh ksina vrtter vailaksanyam dinair bhavet || 511| 

yathaa-tathaayatra-tatra dvaada-shaante manah kshipet 
prati-kshanam ksheena-vriteh vai-lakshanyam dinaih bhavet 

This body is sustained by altars 
To the radiant nectar of life— 

Around you, an ocean of air 
Ready to become your breath. 

Above the head, the glow of an invisible sun. 
Within the spaciousness of the heart, 

A pulsing throb of creation, 

Where the breaths meet, fuse, 

And transform into each other. 

Whenever, wherever your mind wanders, 
Whatever you wonder, 

Return to the luminous. 

Choose any altar— 

Throw your attention again and again 

Into one of these centers where spirit and flesh 

Consummate their love. 

Day by day, old whirlpools fade, the endless circles. 
You are living in the temple of essence. 



tpr RIVd ^or^rAn^m^ra; ckt *r^cf iihhii 

kalagnina kala padad utthitena svakam puram | 
plustam vicintayed ante santabhasas tada bhavet || 52 11 

kaala-agninaa kaala-padaat ud-thitena svakam puram 
plushtam vi-chintayet ante shaanta-aa-bhaasah tadaa bhavet 

Live for a few days in the meditation, 

“I am immersed in the flame— 

The flame of time, 

The flame of love, 

The flame of life. 

The universal fire flows through me.” 

Step into that fire wholeheartedly, 
Starting with the big toe, 

Then surrendering everywhere. 

Only the not-self, 

Which doesn’t exist anyway, 

Burns away. 

Attend to this continually, 

And awaken into tranquility. 

Your essence is renewed in the flame, 
For it is flame and knows itself as flame 
Since the first heartbeat of creation. 



<R*ft ^ ||*t* I! 

evam eva jagat sarvarh dagdham dhyatva vikalpatah | 
ananya cetasah pumsah pumbhavah paramo bhavet || 53 || 

evam eva jagat sarvam dagdham dhyaatvaa vtkalpatah 
an-anya-chetasah pumsah pum-bhaavah par amah bhavet 

Imagine the entire world consumed by flame. 
Stay steady, do not waver, 

As fire transmutes form into light. 

The soul reveals itself 
To itself as Radiance. 



^51? yikfi ^^ I 

rkdlPi ^TTf% o^l^cl TO U^V || 

svadehe jagato vapi suksma suksmatarani ca | 
tattvaniyani nilayam dhyatvante vyajyate para || 54 | 

sva-dehejagatah vaa apisookshma-sookshma-taraanicha 
tattvaaniyaanini-layam dhyaatva-ante vi-ajyate paraa 

Experience the substance of the body 
And the world 

As made up of vibrating particles, 
And these particles made up of 
Even finer energies. 

Drifting more deeply, 

Feel into each pulse of energy 
As it condenses from infinity 
And dissolves back into it 

Noticing this, breathe easily 
With infinity dancing everywhere. 



Pfrt ^rt i 


pinarh ca durbalam saktirh dhyatva dvadasa gocare | 
pravisya hrdaye dhyayan muktah svatantryam apnuyat || 55 

peenam cha dur-balaam shaktim dhyaatvaa dvaa-dasha-gochare 
pra-vishya hridaye dhyaayam muktah svaa-tantryam aapnuyaat 

Strong or soft, wild or serene— 

Wherever breath flows there is song. 

Hear its whisper touching behind the face, 

Singing in the throat, 

Dancing spirals in the sanctuary of your heart. 

In this practice of listening, 

A moment may come when you just want to lie down. 
This is a doorway—surrender. 

Fall into the wide-open embrace of life. 

You are the instrument breath is playing. 

All the meditations you have ever loved 
Are vibrating in this luxurious hum, 

Continuing even in sleep and dreams. 

This is your school. Just you and infinity. 

The texture of the Self is untamed freedom. 



^cht^ciiR^ui i 

: ii^ii 

bhuvanadhvadi rupena cintayet kramaso'khilam | 
sthula suksma parasthityayavad ante manolayah || 56 || 

bhuvana adhva aadiroopena chintayet kramashah a-khiam 
stoola-sookshma-para-sthityaayaavat ante manas-layah 

This whole universe is a path of liberation, 

A vast arena for your endless play. 

Playing, let your awareness be everywhere at once. 
Planets, stars, swirling galaxies, subatomic motes— 
All are dancing within you. 

Enter the rhythm, 

Descend into the space between beats. 

Dissolve into intimacy with the Dancing One. 



dd: I 

asya sarvasya visvasya pary antesu samantatah | 
adhva prakriyaya tattvam saivam dhyatva mahodayah || 57 

asya sarvasya vishvasya pari-anteshu sam-antatah 
adhva pra-kriyayaa tattvam shaivam dhyaatvaa maha-udayah 

The air I am breathing was exhaled in ecstasy 
By an ancient sun. 

This earth I am standing on 
Was born of cosmic fire. 

The blood flowing through my veins 
Is as salty as the primordial ocean. 

The space permeating my body 
Is infinite as the space all around. 

Above, below, to all sides, within, 

The elements of the universe 

Are engaged in their ceremony of delight. 

This is my religion. 

The attraction between suns 
Is the same 

As the love pulsating in my heart. 



fwr qcFT I iR RRltf^d I 
*r Tpfr cTln dd^ cf^mriRn ii^ii 

visvam etan maha devi sunya bhutarh vicintayet | 
tatraiva ca mano linarh tatas tal laya bhajanam || 58 || 

vishvam etan mahaa-devishoonya-bhootam vi-chintayet 
tatra eva cha manah leenam tatah tat laya bhaajanam 

Shining One, 

Breathing out, let go 

And fall into knowing all of creation 

As existing within space, 

And you are absorbed in that 
Vibrant empty fullness. 

In this moment your body is intimate 
With space, exchanging essence for essence. 

Balancing in the midst of vast emptiness, 
Know utter freedom. 



C'Mchrd I 

cfOTRTcTrOTT^TTWTdwt^W-^^ *f^T \\^% 

ghatadi bhajane drstim bhittis tyaktva viniksipet | 
tal layarh tat ksanad gatva tal layat tan mayo bhavet || 59 

ghata aadi bhaajane drishtim bhittih tyaktvaa vi-ni-kshipet 
tat-layam tat-kshanaat gatvaa tat-layaat tat-mayah bhavet 

Space is worthy of worship and wonder. 

It is the field within which every thing exists. 
Rest your eyes in emptiness, 

Inside a room, a temple, even a little jar— 
Any contained space. 

Throw the one who is seeing into the center. 
Entrust your mind to the embrace of space. 
In a flash, all boundaries dissolve. 



\\%° il 

nirvrksa giri bhitty adi dese drstirh viniksipet | 
viline manase bhave vrtti ksinah prajayate || 60 11 

nir-vrksha-giri-bhitiaadideshe drishtim vtntkshipet 
vi-leene manase bhaave vrfrti-ksheenah pra-jaayate 

Go to a wide-open space, 

Gaze without looking anywhere. 

The mind stops its building of thoughts, 
And rests on its own foundation- 

The light that you see by 

Is the light that comes from inside. 



wrg- ^ <$ ^i^t *t&t y^Rici imii 

ubhayor bhavayor jnane dhyatva madhyam samasrayet | 
yugapac ca dvayam tyaktva madhye tattvam prakasate || 61 

ubhayoh bhaavayohjnaane dhyaatvaa madhyam sam-aashrayet 
yuga-pad cha dvayam tyaktvaa madhye tattvam pra-kaashate 

Watch for a moment in which 
Two opposing perceptions occur— 

Wanting to go and not going, 

Knowing and simultaneously not knowing. 

In the midst of this dilemma, 

Let go of both perceptions 

And jump in to the interval between. 

Reality flashes forth. 

Your being is the shining field of awareness, 
The continuum in which the opposites play. 



bhave tyakte niruddha cin naiva bhavantaram vrajet | 
tada tan madhya bhavena vikasatyati bhavana || 62 || 

bhaave tyakte ni-ruddhaa chit na eva bhaava-antaram vrajet 
tadaa tat madhya bhaavena virkasatyati bhaavanaa 

Cast aside the ten thousand things, 
And love only one. 

Don’t go on to another. 

Engage your lively awareness 
With this one focus— 

One object, one thought, one symbol. 
Now go inside. 

Find the center, 

The soul, the heart. 

Right here, 

In the middle of the feeling, 

Attend the blossoming— 

Attention vast as the sky. 



qTjiHplRch^H TT^TTLK^^i): ||U|| 

sarvam deham cin mayarh hi jagad va paribhavayet | 
yugapan nirvikalpena manasa paramodayah || 63 || 

sarvam deham chit-mayam hijagatvaa pari-bhaavayet 
yuga-pad nir-vtkalpena manasaa parama-udayah 

Delight in this entire universe 
As permeated with divine awareness, 
And every area of your body— 

Your feet, your face, your shoulders— 
Made out of divine awareness. 

The body of the planet beneath you, 
Out beyond the farthest horizons, 

The stars and the reaches of space— 

All are arising from God-consciousness. 

Know this, and dissolve into peace. 



vayu dvayasya sanghattad antar va bahir antatah | 
yogi samatva vijnana samudgamana bhajanam || 64 11 

vaayu dvayasya sanghattaat antar vaa bahir-antatah 
yogee samatva vtjnaana sam-ud-gamana bhaajanam 

Breathing is the flow of the divine, 

Where the rhythms of life turn into each other— 
The eternal exchange. 

Pour one breath into the other, 

Outbreath into the inbreath 
Into the outbreath. 

Awaken to equanimity, 

At peace in the play of opposites. 



*f^cT ||^ || 

sarvam jagat svadeham va svananda bharitam smaret | 
yugapat svamrtenaiva parananda mayo bhavet 11 65 11 

sarvam-jagat sva-deham vaa sva-aananda-bharitam smaret 
yaga-pad sva-amriena eva para-aananda-mayah bhavet 

With one sweep of attention, 

Gather in the whole universe 
And remember it 
As your body of bliss. 

The deep rhythms of life, 


Stir an ambrosia 

Flowing and overflowing everywhere. 

Drink the nectar 
Of all-pervading joy 
From the radiant cup 
That is this very body. 



c!^T Rc^PItT \\%$ || 

kuhanena prayogena sadya eva mrgeksane | 
samudeti mahanando yena tattvam prakasate || 66 || 

kuhanena pra-yogena sadya eva mriga-eekshane 
sam-udetimahaa-aanandahyena tattvam pra-kaashate 

You Whose Existence Melts Me, 

Whenever you dissolve into helpless laughter— 
Transported by a magic show, 

Antics or jokes, 

Having your armpits tickled, 

Drenched by a sudden shower, 

Or any of Nature’s tricks— 

Dive into the source of that laughter. 

Surrender to the surge of joy 
Illuminating the essence of reality. 




sarva sroto nibandhena prana saktyordhvaya sanaih | 
piplla sparsa velayam prathate paramam sukham || 67 || 

sarva srotah ni-bandhana praana-shakti-oordhvayaa shanaih 
pipeela-sparsha-velaayaam prathate paramam sukham 

Rivers of power flowing everywhere. 
Fields of magnetism relating everything. 
This is your origin. This is your lineage. 

The current of creation is right here, 
Coursing through subtle channels, 
Animating this very form. 

Follow the gentle touch of life, 

Soft as the footprint of an ant, 

As tiny sensations open to vastness. 

Power sings as it flows, 

Electrifies the organs of sensing, 
Becomes liquid light, 

Nourishes your entire being. 

Celebrate the boundary 
Where streams join the sea, 

Where body meets infinity. 




vahner visasya madhye tu cittam sukha mayam ksipet | 
kevalam vayu purnam va smaranandena yujyate || 68 || 

vahneh vishasya madhye tu chittam-sukha-mayam kshipet 
kevalam vaayu-poornam vaa smara-aanandena yujyate 

As the fires build in sexual joy, 

Enter that blessed place between the legs, 
Embrace the holy energies shimmering there. 

Follow the rising flow, 

Undulating throughout the spine, 

Shivering with pleasure. 

As the fire intensifies 
And flashes upwards, 

Suspend the breath for a moment. 

Throw your whole self in. 

Become brilliance in your bodily form, 

In union with primordial bliss. 



*i R-d ^ ^ 1 

^drclfij cTc^ W|cKI^ f|^|| 

sakti sangama sanksubdha sakty avesavasanikam | 
yat sukham brahma tattvasya tat sukham svakyam ucyate || 69 || 

shakti-sangama sam-kshubdha shakti-aa-vesha ava-saanikam 
yat sukham brahma tattvasya tat sukham svaakyam uchyate 

At the moment of orgasm 
The truth is illumined— 

The one everyone longs for. 

Lovemaking is riding the currents of excitation 
Into revelation. 

Two rivers flow together, 

The body becomes quivering. 

No inside and no outside— 

Only the delight of union. 

The mind releases itself into divine energy, 

And the body knows where it came from. 

This is reality, and it is always here. 

Everyone craves the source, 

And it is always everywhere. 




*1%^ OTFT^HTJT: !|V9q|| 

lehana manthanakotaih stri sukhasya bharat smrteh | 
sakty abhave'pi devesi bhaved ananda samplavah 11 70 11 

lehanaa manthanaa aa-kotahstree-sukhasya bharaat smriteh 
shakti-a-bhaave apideveshi bhavet aananda-sam-plavah 

When by oneself, flooded with delight, 

Simply in the memory of that kiss ... 

Here is the inner ritual. 

That lick, that taste of nectar, 

That caress, embrace, particular pressure ... 
Your subtle body replays the dance, 
Inundated by divine sensations. 

Melting, merging, swelling... 

Surrender to the deluge. 

Know it as your own. 

This ocean of bliss is you. 



-3113£cf tmm d tpJRT M^cT ||\9?|| 

anande mahati prapte drste va bandhave cirat | 
anandam udgatam dhyatva tal lay as tan mana bhavet 11 7111 

aanande mahati praapte drishte vaa baandhave chiraat 
aanandam ud-gatam dhyaatvaa tat-layah tat-manaa bhavet 

In the great joy of seeing 
A loved one after a long absence, 

A flash of recognition ignites you. 

Space becomes charged, 

The bond between you shimmers, 

And a surge of delight arises in your being. 


Find within you the source of this surge. 
Melt into that place of upwelling, 

A wave rolling in a vast ocean of delight. 




jagdhi pana krtollasa rasananda vijrmbhanat | 
bhavayed bharitavastharh mahanandas tato bhavet 11 72 11 

jagdhi-paana krita-ullaasa rasa-aananda vi-jrimbhanaat 
bhaavayet bhartaa-ava-sthaam mahaa-aanandah tatah bhavet 

Tasting dark chocolate, 

A ripe apricot, 

A luscious elixir— 

Savor the expanding joy in your body. 
Nature is offering herself to you. 

How astonishing 

To realize this world can taste so good. 

When sipping some ambrosia, 

Raise your glass, 

Close your eyes, 

Toast the universe. 

The Sun and Moon and Earth 
Danced together 
To bring you this delight. 

Receive the nectar on your tongue 
As a kiss of the divine. 



^iRldd d^Wc^H d<lv±M ||V93 I! 

gitadi visayasvada sama saukhyaikatat manah | 
yoginas tan mayatvena mano rudhes tad atmata 11 73 

geetaa aadivishaya-aasvaadaa sama-saukhya eka-tat-manah 
yoginah tat-mayatvena manas-roodheh tat-aatmataa 

All around you, in every moment, 

The world is offering a feast for your senses. 
Songs are playing, 

Tasty food is on the table, 

Fragrances are in the air, 

Colors fill the eyes with light. 

You who long for union, 

Attend this banquet with loving focus. 

The outer and inner worlds 
Open to each other. 

Oneness of vision, oneness of heart. 

Right here, in the midst of it all, 

Mount that elation, ascend with it, 

Become identical 
With the ecstatic essence 
Embracing both worlds. 



sircar i 

^lld [|V9V il 

yatrayatra manas tustir manas tatraiva dharayet | 
tatra tatra parananda svarupam sampravartate || 74 || 

yatra-yatra manas-tushtih manas tatra eva dhaarayet 
tatra-tatra paraa-aananda sva-roopam sam-pra-vartate 

Wherever, whenever you feel carried away, 
Rejoicing in every breath, 

There, there is your meditation hall. 

Cherish these times of absorption— 

Rocking the baby in the silence of the night, 
Pouring water into a crystal glass, 

Tending the logs in a crackling fire, 

Sharing a meal with a circle of friends. 
Embrace these pleasures and know, 

“This is my true body.” 

Nowhere is more holy than this. 

Right here is the sacred pilgrimage. 

Live in alertness for such a moment, my Beloved, 
As if it were your one meeting with the Creator. 


5 2 

__ \ r\ _ __\ 

hh^ll TfTSrr tRT P^TSUtT ||\9^ |[ 

anagatayam nidrayam pranaste bahya gocare | 
savastha manasa gamya para devi prakasate || 75 || 

an-aa-gataayaam nidraayam pra-nashte baahya-gochare 
saa ava-sthaa manasaa gamyaa paraa-devee pra-kaashate 

When sleep has not yet come, 

And the sweet buzz of exhaustion 
Permeates the body, 

Linger in the ahhhh of relief 
As your head touches the pillow. 

Everything in you is yearning to let go. 

So let go, let your body fall 

Into something deeper than sleep. 

With your mind, enter 

The soft luminous glow of the soul. 



^RTT *Mdl£ cl | 

^ mit HVS^H 

tejasa surya dipader akase sabali krte | 
drstir nivesya tatraiva svatma rupam prakasate || 761| 

tejasaa-soorya-deepaadeh aakaashe shabalee-krite 
drishth-ni-veshyaa tatra eva sva-aatma-roopam pra-kaashate 

Gaze out at space, 

Aware of multicolored luminosity 
Permeating everywhere... 

The blue sky, filled with rays from the sun. 
The night sky, dark, yet crisscrossed by 
The light of a billion stars. 

How can this be? 

All space is the same, 

Inside you and far away. 

Lose yourself in spaciousness, 

Come home to your true Self. 



^RTf'^chl^ tf MbMllkl: Pf^TSil^ ||V9V9 || 

kararikinya krodhanaya bhairavya lelihanaya | 
khecarya drsti kale ca paravaptih prakasate 11 77 

karankinyaa krodhanayaa bhairavyaa leli-haanayaa 
kecharyaa drishti-kaale cha paraa-ava-aaptih pra-kaashate 

You who have been seeking, whatever path you are on, 
A moment will come when 
Divine pulsation grabs you 
And carries you into its dance. 

In the midst of ecstatic motion, 

Your body dissolves into light, leaving only 
The softly glowing benediction of the bones. 

You become the face of fury, yet serene within. 

Eyes fly open in amazement, 

Seeing the unseen vastness. 

Or you become a tongue tasting upward 
Into the nectar of eternity. 

The soul reveals itself to itself 
Through movement, 

Energy-infused undulations and gestures 
Of hand, foot, spine, face, and form. 

The invisible loves the visible. 


f^icR ftriwr i 
IR[ ^pfr JTfcR llvscll 

mrdvasane sphijaikena hastapadau nirasrayam | 
nidhaya tat prasangena para puma matir bhavet 11 78 

mridu-aasane sphijaikena hasta-paadau nir-aashrayam 
ni-dhaaya tat pra-sangena paraa-poomaa math bhavet 

Sit in any relaxed, comfortable pose. 
Experience the earth below 
As insubstantial, a pillow of air— 

Air that is always vibrating, 

Minute particles in ecstatic motion. 

Poised here, 

No support below, no support above, 
No support for the feet or hands, 

No support for the mind, 

Be completely at peace! 



^oijlpn t^: ipfc5y^^Mlfd' deH^lld IIV9S II 

upavisyasane samyag bahu krtvardha kuncitau | 
kaksa vyomni manah kurvan samam ayatital layat || 79 || 

upa-vishya aasane sam-yak baahoo kritva ardha-kunchitau 
kaksha-vyomni manah kurvan shamam aayaatitat-layaat 

Oceans embrace a continent. 

Space welcomes the sun. 

Embrace yourself this generously. 

Form your arms into a circle 
And cherish the arising of serenity. 

Attend the birth of something new. 
Thoughts dissolve into peace, 

As you become the One who embraces All. 



mr jr: Rft sn^r nc<> 11 

sthula rupasya bhavasya stabdharh drstirh nipatya ca | 
acirena niradharam manah krtva sivarh vrajet || 80 11 

sthoola-roopasya bhaavasya stabdhaam drishtim ni-paatya cha 
achirena nir-aa-dhaaram manah kritvaa shivam vrajet 

Find something so enchanting to behold 
That you are transfixed—ravished. 

Allow yourself to be captivated. 

Gaze upon its form 
With the eyes of wonder. 

Attend to details— 

This shape, texture, these colors ... 

How can something so beautiful possibly exist? 

With a steady gaze, melt into 

The field of space embracing that form. 

At once, 

Be at one with the Creator, who is 
Looking through your eyes, loving creation. 



bulk'd I ^ ^ PrfsTUT ^dHIH | 
^H^Tf^TcTcT: 9IF^WHk3 !|d?|| 

madhya jihve spharitasye madhye niksipya cetanam | 
hoccaram manasa kurvarhs tatah sante praliyate || 811 

madhya jihve sphaaritaasye madhye ni-kshipya chetanaam 
ho-ud-chaaram manasaa kurvan tatah shaante pra-leeyate 

The tongue is made of truth and flame. 

On it dance the triple fires of spirit, body, soul. 

Trace this dance from the depths of your core, 
Rising upward through the crown of your being. 
Every offering of breath and food 
Feeds this holy flame. 

Touch the tip of the tongue 
To the roof of the mouth, lightly. 

Inquire into the luminosity above. 

Breathe out with a quiet haaaaa. 

You are an altar to the flame of life. 

Throw yourself into the throbbing intensity. 
Become this dance, 

Absorbed in radiant splendor. 


f^TT^TK f^TR^FT I 

Tnf% fs^r $MTc#TO*fr h<^h 

asane sayane sthitva niradharam vibhavayan | 
svadeham manasi ksine ksanat ksinasayo bhavet || 82 || 

asane shayane sthitvaa nir-aa-dhaaram vi-bhaavayan 
sva-deham manasi ksheene kshanaat ksheena-aa-shayah bhavet 

Sitting on a soft seat, 

Or lying on your mat, 

Experience the space below 
As offering no support. 

You are simply suspended, 
Floating in space. 

Structures of the mind release. 
The reservoir of habits dissolves. 
In an instant, lifetimes of patterns 



\ % 


calasane sthitas yatha sanair va deha calanat | 
prasante manase bhave devi divyaughamapnuyat || 83 || 

chal-aasane sthiasya-atha shanah vaa deha-chaalanaat 
pra-shaante maanase bhaave devidivya-augham aapnuyaat 

Rocking, undulating, swaying, 
Carried by rhythm, 

Cherish the streaming energy 
Flooding your body 
As a current of the divine. 

Oh Radiant One, 

Ride the waves of ecstatic motion 
Into a sublime fusion 
Of passion and peace. 



^STTc*TT tRmr\ ^T ^ ^ Sfl^RT \\C || 

akasam vimalam pasyan krtva drstim nirantaram | 
stabdhatma tat ksanad devi bhairavam vapur apnuyat 11 84 11 

aakaasham vtmalam pashyan kritvaa drishtim nir-antaraam 
stabdha-aatma tat-kshanaat devi bhairavam-vapuh aapnuyaat 

Adorable One, 

Sit or lie down, completely immobile, 
Beholding the cloudless sky— 

Or if there are clouds, the sky beyond. 

As vastness envelops you, 

The body vanishes, 

Thoughts forget to come. 

In this moment, 

You are the nature of the great sky. 



3ft *TFPfc|; | 

dv^-H ^dlcbktWWvd SWlf^T ||dH || 

linarii murdhni viyat sarvam bhairavatvena bhavayet | 
tat sarvam bhairavakara tejas tattvam samaviset || 85 || 

leenam moordhniviyat sarvam bhairavatvena bhaavayet 
tat sarvam bhairava-aa-kaara tejas-tattvam sam-aa-vishet 

Enter the space inside your head. 
See it as already infinite, 

Extending forever in all directions. 

This spaciousness that you are 
Is permeated by luminosity. 

Know this radiance 
As the soul of the world. 



«!$|hW^cPT: 5=T| 

^ ^I^M-dychl^'nfT ||<^ || 

kincij jnatarh dvaitadayi bahyalokas tamah punah | 
visvadi bhairavam rupam jnatvananta prakasabhrt || 86 || 

kinchitjnaatam dvaiadaayi baahya-aa-lokah tamah punah 
vishva aadibhairavam-roopamjnaatvaa an-anta-pra-kaasha-bhrit 

Dreaming, dreaming, sleeping, awakening— 
Rhythms of darkness and light. 

Day and night, night and day, wondering... 
Who am I? Who AM I? 

Who is morphing through this 
Ever-shifting flow? 

Beloved, wake up! 

Dance in your true body before time, 
Shimmering energy without end. 




evam eva durnisayam krsna paksagame ciram | 
taimiram bhavayan rupam bhairavam rupam esyati || 87 

evam eva dur-ni-shaayaam krishna-paksha-aa-game chiram 
taimiram-bhaavayan-roopam bhairavam-roopam eshyati 

Secrets are hidden in darkness 
And difficult nights. 

You awaken into a pang of aloneness, 
A howl of separation. 

This is the call of the Dark One, 

The roar of life seeking its source. 

The union you long for is within reach. 

Throw off all hesitation. 

Become one with the fear. 

Plunge into the uncanny blackness, 
Eyes wide open, 

As if there were no other choice. 

Vibrating with fierce tenderness, 

Breathe intimately 

With the Lord of Infinite Space. 



qcFT qcr Un\rM Idl I 

\\cc ii 

% % % 

evam eva nimilyadau netre krsnabhamagratah | 
prasarya bhairavam rupam bhavayams tan mayo bhavet || 88 || 

evam eva ni-meelyaadau-netre krishna-abham-a-gratah 
pra-saarya bhairavam-roopam bhaavayan tat-mayah bhavet 

Close your eyes and imagine 

An expanse of terrible darkness surrounds you— 

No objects, no light, no moon, no stars— 

Nothing but blackness spreading to infinity. 

Do not shrink in terror; do not turn away. 

Give yourself to the blackness 
With no hope of light. 

Surrender completely. 

Contemplating this feeling, 

Merge with the mystery of night. 



crtWTT pFRlt H% |] 

yasya kasyendriyasyapi vyaghatac ca nirodhatah | 
pravistasyadvaye sunye tatraivatma prakasate || 89 || 

yasya-kasya indryasya apivi-aa-ghaataat cha ni-rodhatah 
pra-vishtasya advaye shoonye tatra eva aatmaa pra-kaashate 

Whenever any of the senses is impaired 
It becomes a gateway to infinity. 

Whether by deprivation, injury, or age, 
Obstruction of the senses 
Invites awareness of Soul. 

The mind can no longer take the world for granted. 
Attention spirals inward, 

And touches the glistening emptiness— 

The reality behind appearance. 



^ mat i 
*w\m- ||^°ll 

abindum avisargam ca akaram japato mahan | 
udeti devi sahasajnanaughah paramesvarah || 90 | 

a-bindum a-visargam cha a-kaaramjapatah mahaan 
udeti devisahasaajnaana-aughah parama-eeshvarah 

Shining One, whose body flows with power— 

When you are astonished, 

Startled or afraid, 

And gasp, a shocked inhalation— AH! 

Right there, right there, 

Sense the vibration of that gasp on your palette. 

The shimmer of that sound in the mouth 
Evokes a flood of knowing, 

A gush of the divine. 



fN *h icm-h, ns? 

varnasya savisargasya visargantam citirh kuru | 
niradharena cittena sprsed brahma sanatanam 11 9111 

varnasya sa-vi-sargasya vi-sarga-antam chitim kuru 
nir-aa-dhaarena chittena sprishet brahma-sanaatanam 

Listen to the inner sound, 

The one that you rode outward 
Into this life, 

Into this manifestation of yourself. 

Savor the sound of hhhaaa..., 

Softly continuing, resonating through 
All the nerves of your body, permeating, 
Expanding everywhere. 

Know this as the sound of ongoing creation. 



oifl^ichk 'W'HIcHI-t I 

f^TP^TT Bfct: ^#?T: ^ffeT \\%^ || 

vyomakaram svamatmanam dhyayed digbhir anavrtam | 
nirasraya citih saktih svarupam darsayet tada || 92 || 

vyoma-aa-kaaram svam-aatmaanam dhyaayet digbhih an-aa-vritam 
nir-aa-shrayaa chitih shaktih sva-roopam darshayet tadaa 

Meditate on the Self as being 
Vast as the sky, 

A body of energy 

Extending forever in all directions— 
Above, below, all around. 

In the embrace of infinite space, 
Awaken to your true form— 

Divine creative energy 
Revealing Herself as you. 



fcbl^n^ ■Sd v5 v j i f^fw^r ci ci ■ i 


kincid aiigam vibhidyadau tiksna sucyadina tatah | 
tatraiva cetanam yuktva bhairave nirmala gatih || 93 || 

kinchit angam-vi-bhifya-adau teekshna-soochi-aadinaa tatah 
tatra eva chetanaamyuktvaa bhairave nir-malaa gatih 

Sting of a wasp. 

Rip of a nail. 

A razor’s slice. 

The needle’s plunge. 

A piercing word. 

A stab of betrayal. 

The boundary crossed. 

A trust broken. 

In this lacerating moment, 

Pain is all you know. 

Life is tattooing scripture into your flesh, 
Scribing incandescence in your nerves. 
Right here, 

In this single searing point 
Of intolerable concentration, 

Wound becomes portal. 

Brokenness surrenders to 
Crystalline brilliance of Being. 



ftcM^feld’'l ^7T ||S* I! 

cittady antah krtir nasti mamantar bhavayed iti | 
vikalpanam abhavena vikalpair ujjhito bhavet || 94 || 

chitta aadiantah-kritih na astimama-antah bhaavayet iti 
virkalpaanaam a-bhaavena vi-kalpaih ujjhiah bhavet 

People talk about mind and ego. 

Let’s just drop this whole conversation. 

Consider instead: 

There is no mind. 

There is no ego. 

There is only the vivid reality 
Of this surprising moment 
At play, beckoning. 



mm ^TPT cbcH l^l: ft*TcPT | 

UrMlRs^f cMHI cM^H ||<^|| 

maya vimohini nama kalayah kalanam sthitam | 
ity adi dharmarh tattvanam kalayan na prthag bhavet || 95 || 

maayaa vi-mohinee naama kalaayaah kalanam sthitam 
iiaadidharmam-tattvanaam kalayan na prthak bhavet 

The universe is here to reveal 
Unlimited splendor- 
infinite diversity of expression. 

No one can withstand her allure. 

Adore the colors and shapes 
Of her enchantment and know: 

The One who permeates it all is a great lover. 

Deeply relating above and below, 

Mortal and immortal, transient and eternal, 
Perceive the terrifying beauty. 

Be free to suffer and to be thrilled, 

To tolerate intolerable ravishment. 



^FldWi I 

^TcT^^JcTT eTclf ll^ll 

jhagit iccarh samutpannam avalokya samarh nayet | 
yata eva samudbhuta tatas tatraiva liyate || 961| 

jhagit thchhaam sam-ut-pannaam ava-lokya shamam nayet 
yata eva sam-ud-bhoota tatah tatra eva leeyate 

Just as a desire leaps up, 

And you perceive the flash, the sparkle, 
Quit from its play, 

And maintain awareness 
In that clear and shining place 
From which all desire springs. 



^r^frs? OTT^Rf cpiRTT ^ ||*V91! 

yada mamecca notpanna jnanam va kas tadasmi vai | 
tattvato'ham tatha bhutas tal linas tan mana bhavet 11 97 11 

yadaa mama thchhaa na ut-pannaajnaanam vaa kah tadaa asmivai 
tattvatah aham tathaa bhootah tat leenah tat-manaa bhavet 

Radiant One, inquire: 

Before desire arises in me, who am I? 
Before I know anything, who am I? 

Seek always the intimate joy 
Of your original Self, 

And move through this world in freedom. 



5th ^ i 

d 1^ <RTC( II Sd 

icchayam atha va jnane jate cittarh nivesayet | 
atma buddhy ananya cetas tatas tattvartha darsanam || 98 || 

thchhaayaam atha vaajnaanejaate chitam ni-veshayat 
aatma-buddhyaa an-anya-chetaah tatah tattva-artha-darshanam 

Whenever a wanting moment comes, 
Celebrate the rising of desire 
As a sparkling impulse of energy 
Vibrating the body into motion. 

In a flash of knowing, 

When intelligence arises, 

Attend to this rising 

As the illumination of the Self. 

Desiring and knowing, 

Knowing and desiring. 

Just for a breath, 

Forget what you want. 

Forget what you know. 

Receive the real teaching, 

The essence of Earth, Air, 

Fire, Water, and Space. 



\ \ \ \ 1 
cl?^: ch^RlH t^r^T# ffe \\%%\\ 

nirnimittam bhavej jnanarh niradharam bhramatmakam | 
tattvatah kasyacin naitad evam bhavi sivah priye 11 99 11 

nir-nimittam bhavetjnaanam nir-aa-dhaaram bhrama-aatmakaam 
tattvatah kasya chit na etat evam bhaavee shivah priye 


Reject the reality of everything. 
Deny the universe of appearance. 
Say no to the phenomenal world. 
Reside in the secret place inside. 

As joy rises in the heart 
At this sudden freedom, 

Enter there and dwell! 



TbFT HhFF H^T3T SFT: ||?oo|[ 

\ \ \ 

cid dharma sarva dehesu viseso nasti kutracit | 
atas ca tan mayam sarvam bhavayan bhavajij janah 11100 

chit-dharmaa sarva-deheshu vtsheshah na-astikutra chit 
atah cha tan mayam sarvam bhaavayan bhavajit janah 

The heart of the universe pulses in all hearts. 

There is One who is the life in all forms. 

There is One who is joyful in simply existing— 

In all bodies, 

As all bodies. 

Explore the life that is the life of your present form. 

One day you will discover 

It is not different 

From the life of the Secret One, 

And your heart will sing triumphant songs 
Of being at home everywhere. 



<b lcd4j|l*A I 

^RffaRdPldi ^TTddvddd[*F^ ||?°?|| 

kama krodha lobha moha mada matsarya gocare | 
buddhim nistimitam krtva tat tattvam avasisyate || 1011| 

kaama krodha lobha moha mada maatsarya gochare 
buddhim ni-stimitaam krivaa tat-tattvam ava-shishyate 

Desire, lust, longing— 

Anger humming in your blood. 
Confusion, jealousy, bewilderment, 
Swirling in your head. 

Catch the first hint as passion rises, 

The first quickening heartbeat. 

Embrace that vibrancy 
With a mind vast as the sky. 

Witness the elemental motion of emotion: 
Fire burning, illuminating, 

Water gushing, cleansing, 

Air inspiring, soothing, 

Earth supporting, holding, 

Space expanding, embracing. 

You are in the temple of desire. 

Go deeper still and rest in essence, 
Awake to infinite spiritual energy 
Surging into form. 



^TPTcf: W &{TOTTO ||?°q if 

indrajala may am visvarh vyastam va citra karmavat | 
bhramad va dhyayatah sarvam pasyatas ca sukhodgamah || 102 || 

indra-jaala-mayam vishvam vi-astam vaa chitra karmavat 
bhramad vaa dhyaayatah sarvam pashyatash cha sukhah ud-gamah 

Contemplate the entire universe 
As a magic show 

On the grandest scale imaginable. 

Fabulous art, an immense painting in motion. 
God is a magician whirling galaxies of fire, 
Juggling atoms, planets, and us. 

Everything, everything is fleeting. 

Meditating on this magic, 

Great happiness rises in the heart. 



^ dreWdfil^ |]?°*|| 

na cittarh niksiped duhkhe na sukhe va pariksipet | 
bhairavijnayatam madhye kim tattvam avasisyate || 103 

na chittam ni-kshpet duhke na sukhe vaa pari-kshpet 
bhairavijnaayataam madhye kim tattvam ava-shishyate 

That space is bad. 

This space is good. 

The ride is rough, 

Or the going is smooth. 

We are thrown into suffering, 

We are thrown into joy. 

Beloved Soul Mate- 
Find the space in the center, 

The pulsing spaciousness 
Encompassing all opposites. 

Here the essences of creation are at play: 
Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space, 

And the senses that perceive them. 

The center is the dancing ground. 



%FT ^TTRt% ^TTWr I 

vihaya nija dehastham sarvatrasmiti bhavayan | 
drdhena manasa drstya nanyeksinya sukhi bhavet 11104 11 

vihaaya nija-dehasthaam sarvatra asmi iti bhaavayan 
dridhena manasaa drishtyaa na anya-eekshinyaa sukhee bhavet 

Drop the thought, 

“I am this body,” 

Abandon the limitation, 

“I am only here in this specific place and time.” 

Embrace instead, 

I am not my body. 

I am not this place. 

I am not this time. 

There is no place. 

There is no time. 


“I am everywhere,” 

Sustained by infinite bliss. 



% Tpfef ^TRR W\^ ^T: ||?°^|| 

ghatadau yac ca vijnanam icchadyam va mamantare | 
naiva sarvagatarhjatam bhavayan iti sarvagah || 105 || 

ghataadauyat cha vtjnaanam thchhaadyam vaa mama antare 
na eva sarva-gatamjaatam bhaavayan itisarva-gah 

Trees have desires. 

Rocks have knowledge. 

Jugs are full of emptiness and joy. 

All embodied ones have this in common. 
All are propelled by the same One 
Whose pulse beats in your breast. 

Shed insularity. 

Be all-pervasive, 

Delighting in kinship everywhere. 



4Wlni % maWst^T ^STFTHT ||?°$j| 

grahya grahaka samvittih samanya sarva dehinam | 
yoginam tu viseso'sti sambandhe savadhanata 11106 || 

graahya graahaka sam-vitth saamaanyaa sarva-dehinaam 
yoginaam tu vtsheshah astisam-bandhe saa-vadhaanataa 

Everyone knows, there is me, 

And then there are all these others. 

This is common to all. 

Lovers know, there is me, 

And the source of this me 
Is ever mysterious. 

Lovers know, each contact with another 
Is a spark of the divine. 

Lovers move through this world 
Awake to intimacy, 

Each touch a revelation 
Never to be repeated. 



S^OTf r-McM I ^cf ||?°V9|| 

svavad anya sarire'pi samvittimanu bhavayet | 
apeksam svasarirasya tyaktva vyapi dinair bhavet || 107 11 

sva-vat anya-shareere apisam-vitim anu-bhaavayet 
a-pekshaam sva-shareerasya tyaktvaa vyaapee dinaih bhavet 

Extend your awareness 

Into the bodies of other living beings, 

Feel what those others are feeling. 

Leave aside your body and its needs. 
Abandon being so local. 

Day by day, constrictions will loosen, 
As you become attuned 
To the current of life 
Flowing through us all. 



cKIc^-Hk^ ||?°d|l 

niradharam manah krtva vikalpan na vikalpayet | 
tad atma paramatmatve bhairavo mrgalocane || 108 | 

nir-aadhaaram manah krivaa vi-kalpaan na vi-kalpayet 
tat-aatma-parama-aatmatve bhairavah mriga-lochane 

Toss aside your map of the world, 

All your beliefs and constructs. 

Dare the wild unknown. 

Here in this terrifying freedom, 

Naked before the universe, 

Commune with the One 
Who knows everything from the inside: 
Invisible power pervading everywhere. 
Divine presence permeating everything. 

Breathe tenderly as 
The lover of all beings. 



u^»cfr ^ oettw : i 

*T %^tR=fr ffcl 31 <fcfitj %fr ll^o^H 

sarvajnah sarvakarta ca vyapakah paramesvarah | 
sa evaham saiva dharma iti dardhyac chivo bhavet || 109 11 

sarva-jnahsarva-karttaa cha vi-aapakahparama-eeshvarah 
sa eva aham shaiva-dharma itidaardhyaat bhavet shivah 

There is a Knower who experiences everything. 
There is a Presence dancing everywhere. 

There is a Lover who embraces us all. 

I am one with that Light. 

I am one with that Power. 

I am one with that Love. 




^ f^tf^TT: \\n°\ 

jalasyevormayo vahner jvala bharigyah prabha raveh | 
mamaiva bhairavasyaita visva bharigyo vibheditah 11110 11 

jalasya iva urmayahvahneh-jvaalaa-bhangyahpra-bhaa-raveh 
mama eva bhairavasya etaa vishva-bhangyah vtbheditaah 

Waves rise from water. 
Flames arise from fire. 

Rays emanate from the sun. 

So do you and I shine forth 
From the Mysterious One. 



ARftw c^fcPT ’TTcf-TTcf 
W^3TRT^ ^TT II??? II 

bhrantva bhrantva sarirena tvaritam bhuvi patanat | 
ksobha sakti viramena para sanjayate dasa || 111 || 

bhraantvaa bhraantvaa shareerena tvaritam bhuvi paatanaat 
kshobha-shaktivi-raamena paraa sam-jaayate dashaa 

Wander and wander to the point of exhaustion. 
Whirl until you lose all control. 

Dance until you are ready to drop. 

Then drop! 

Fall to the earth. 

Surrender to the swirl of sensations 
Surging through your form. 

Dissolve in awe as arising energies 
Continue the dance in your inner world. 

Beyond motion and commotion, 

Become the body of ecstasy. 



adharesv atha va 'saktya 'jnanac citta layena va | 
jata sakti samavesa ksobhante bhairavarh vapuh 11112 11 

aa-dhaareshu atha vaa ashaktyaa ajnaanaat chita-layena vaa 
jaata-shaktisam-aa-vesha kshobha-ante bhairavam-vapuh 

You are stunned, powerless. 

You thought you knew 
What was going on. 

Now you realize you don’t have a clue. 

You are stopped in your tracks. 
Everything within your skin is shaking. 
Enter this shaking. 

Get curious. 

Look around inside with wonder. 
Unmind your mind. 

All the walls have fallen down— 

Go ahead and dissolve. 

The One Who Has Always Been, 

Who has seen much worse than this, 

Is still here. 



Wt ^RTt: ^q^r^Tf: |[??3II 

sampradayam imam devi srnu samyag vadamy aham | 
kaivalyamjayate sadyo netrayoh stabdha matrayoh || 113 || 

sam-pra-daayam imam devishrinu sam-yak vadaamiaham 
kaivalyamjaayate sadyah netrayoh stabdha-maatrayoh 

Radiant One, 

Please listen to me. 

The essence of all teachings is right here. 

Open your eyes. 

With a soft and steady gaze, 

Look out upon creation. 

Receive waves of light as they enter your eyes, 
Singing of infinity. 

The light touching the back of your eyes 
Is immortal, born in the primal sun. 

Be present to this enlightenment. 

This is the ancient knowing, 

A sanctuary that is everywhere. 

Galaxies are flowers on this altar. 



&WF{ f^fa ^ 'HHIdH-HL II??* 

sankocam karnayoh krtva hy adho dvare tathaiva ca | 
anackam ahalam dhyayan vised brahma sanatanam || 114 || 

sam-kocham karnayoh krivaa hiadhas-dvaare tathaa eva cha 
an-achkam a-halam dhyaayan vishet brahma-sanaatanam 

Close the ears that track the outer world, 

Open the ears of the soul. 

Engage the muscles at the base of the pelvis, 

The intimate special places, 

And cherish the vibrating energies there contained. 

The song of creation, 

Sustaining, enlivening, 

Is thrumming in your body, 

Whispering secrets. 

Listen in. 

Meditating on the symphony of your own life currents, 
Enter the palace of the Creator. 




kupadike mahagarte sthitvopari niriksanat | 
avikalpa mateh samyak sadyas citta layah sphutam 11115 

koopaadike mahaa-garte sthitvaa uparinir-eekshanaat 
a-vi-kalpa mateh sam-yak sadhyah chita-layah sphutam 

Position yourself safely 
At the edge of a cliff or gorge. 

Gaze into the abyss and see only depth. 


Doubts dissolve, 

Dilemmas disappear. 

Be steady as mind releases itself 
Into its natural freedom. 



oiiNcbr^kcW 'Ml'HIId ||??5H 

yatra yatra mano yati bahye vabhyantare'pi va | 
tatra tatra siva vastha vyapakatvat kva yasyati 11116 | 

yatra-yatra manahyaati baahye vaa abhi-antare apivaa 
tatra-tatra shiva-ava-sthaa vi-aa-pakatvaat kvayaasyati 

Wherever your heart journeys, 

On whatever expedition 
In your outer life and 
Secret inner realms, 

Breathe in intimacy with infinity. 

Where can you go to avoid 
The One in Whom All Exists? 

Reach down into your deepest being. 

Take a stand in eternity. 

Walk through this world, see every situation 
As an expansion of the mystery. 

Savor the tremble of recognition— 

The God in you is touching the God out there. 



^ ^T^TT^H -H l J T u l 3d-M O’M j 
cT^T cFiTT^tfffic^r fto-cHMK ^ftclloHdl !!??\9|| 

yatra yatraksa margena caitanyam vyajyate vibhoh | 
tasya tanmatra dharmitvac cil lay ad bharitatmata 11117 

yatra-yatra aksha-maargena chatanyam vtajyate vi-bhoh 
tasya tat-maatra dharmitvaat cht-layaat bhritaa-aatmataa 

Light moves on its pathways through space, 
Enters the eyes, and 
You absorb the luminous. 

Each sense is a current of divinity, 

Sparkling with mystery. 

Light, motion, space, vision, awareness— 

All are composed of omnipresence. 

The senses connecting you to the outer world 
Are paths of communion with the inner world. 

Every sight, sound, smell, taste, touch— 

A greeting from the Beloved. 



%dl ^ affr TT ^ | 

^TT ||??d || 

ksutady ante bhaye soke gahvare va ranad drute | 
kutuhale ksudhady ante brahma satta may! dasa 11118 11 

kshut-aadi-ante bhaye shoke gahvare vaa ranaat-drute 
kutoohale kshudhaa-aadi-ante brahma-sattaa-mayee dashaa 

Ravenous with hunger, 
Exploding with joy, 

Sneezing uncontrollably, 
Burning with desire. 

Reeling with amazement, 
Staggered by grief, 

Fleeing from danger, 

Desperately lost. 

Intensity awakens, 

Wild attentiveness everywhere. 

Ride the shockwave inward 
To touch the Great Self, 

The power from which you arise. 




vastusu smaryamanesu drste dese manas tyajet | 
svasariram niradharam krtva prasarati prabhuh 11119 11 

vastushu smarya-maaneshu drishte deshe manah tyajet 
sva-shareeram nir-aa-dhaaram kritvaa pra-saratipra-bhuh 

When the unforgettable calls you— 

The memory of something noble, 

Generous, inspiring, 

Accept the gift. 

Savor every detail. 

The beauty we admire 

Is a visitation from another moment, 

Infusing body and heart. 

Memory transports us beyond time and space, 
Into the living presence of wonder. 



era ^rFt RkmRid ^ m nil *i^r ii?h°ii 

kvacid vastuni vinyasya sanair drstirh nivartayet | 
taj jnanarh citta sahitam devi sunyalayo bhavet || 120 | 

kvachi vastunivi-nyasya shanaih drishtim ni-vartayet 
tat-jnaanam chitta-sahitam devishoonya-aa-layah bhavet 

Engage your gaze with something, anything. 
Adore its form and essence. 

Give it your all. 

Now tiptoe away into another realm, 

As if not wanting to wake your lover. 

Emptied of engagement, 

Enter the temple of unknowing. 

Dissolve in wonder— 

Where does anything come from? 



¥T Slfe: 3,1 1 ^{\ fRf: fe: |j?R? 

bhakty udrekad viraktasya ya drsijayate matih | 
sa saktih sarikari nityam bhavayet tarn tatah sivah 1112111 

bhakti-ud-rekaat vtraktasyayaa drisheejayaate math 
saa shakti-shaankaree nityam bhaavayet taam tatah shivah 

Be wildly devoted to someone, or something. 
Cherish every perception. 

At the same time, forget about control. 

Allow the Beloved to be herself and to change. 

Passion and compassion, holding and letting go— 
This ache in your heart is holy. 

Accept it as the rise of intimacy 
With life’s secret ways. 

Devotion is the divine streaming through you 
From that place in you before time. 

Love’s energy flows through your body, 

Toward a body, and into eternity again. 
Surrender to this current of devotion 
And become one with the Body of Love. 



<TF{T& JFRTT GTT^T RRtflsft limil 

vastvantare vedya mane sarva vastusu sunyata | 
tam eva manasa dhyatva vidito 'pi prasamyati 11122 | 

vastu-antare vedya-maane sarva-vastushu shoonyataa 
taam eva manasaa dhyaatvaa vidtiah apipra-shaamyati 

Love is particular. 

When you love someone, 

A tangible, touchable someone, 

The whole world opens up. 

If you want to know the universe, 

Dare to love one person. 

All the secret teachings are right here— 
Go deeper, and deeper still. 

The gift of concentration 

Is the spaciousness that surrounds it. 

Focus illuminates immensity. 



^TT l • HI | 

=T cTFTT^ *T^T 1!?^ || 

kincij jnair ya smrta suddhih sa suddhih sambhu darsane | 
na sucir hy asucis tasman nirvikalpah sukhibhavet || 123 || 

kinchijnahyaa smriaa shuddhih saa shuddhih shambhu-darshane 
na suchir hia-shuchh tasmaat nir-vi-kalpah sukhee bhavet 

All this talk of purity and impurity, 

These are just opinions. Beyond them 
Are the miraculous energies of creation. 

Rays of light from a trillion suns 
Illumine the altar of your sky. 

Rolling blue-green oceans 
Sanctify the air you breathe. 

In this moment, you are inhaling their blessing. 

Who are you to call any of this pure or impure? 

Find the center around which everything revolves— 
Stand here and be flooded with joy. 



^ft *TFT: ±\ W 3# TfTtR: I 

*T d^idi^ui qrts^dl^^ | n%: tlR^il 

sarvatra bhairavo bhavah samanyesv api gocarah | 
na ca tad vyati rektena paro 'stity advaya gatih 11124 11 

sarvatra bhairavah bhaavah saamaanyeshu apigocharah 
na cha parah tat vtati-rekena parah asti iti a-dvayaa gatih 

The reality of the divine 
Is everywhere apparent, 

Especially among people 

Who haven’t even thought about it! 

The very nature of I-consciousness, 

To be an individual, 

Is in essence divine. 

The excitement of the Eternal One 
Is throbbing in the heart of every creature. 

Know this, and be without superiority, inferiority, 
Or resentment at your limitations. 



$£FT: uRijjufrcjirara ^T^fr^T limil 

samah satrau ca mitre ca samo manavamanayoh || 
brahmanah paripurnatvat itijnatva sukhi bhavet 11125 

samah shatrau cha mitre cha samah maana-ava-maanayoh 
brahmanah pari-poomatvaat itijnaatvaa sukhee bhavet 

It’s always the same. 

Barbarians and blockheads, rival queens and kings, 

The drama rolls on and on. 

When people honor you, 

You are supposed to feel honored. 

When you don’t get respect, they expect 
You to sulk in indignation. 

One minute you are cruising on a throne in the sky, 

The next you are standing on some bleak patch of dirt. 

I say, the Sun regards all with a steady eye. 

The force sustaining Earth and Sky 

Calls everyone to awaken from this trance. 

This whole world revolves around an axis, and I am that. 

When you are friends with the Friend to All Beings 
Nothing is the same. 

Rich beyond measure, abundant beyond counting, 

You can move through this life laughing. 

Opinions of others have no rulership over you. 



^TijW^|c|i)ccHira =TTFFT^M^rcMPld I 

<hi^RRiJWI^ w prcnffir iiwii 

na dvesam bhavayet kvapi na ragam bhavayet kvacit | 
raga dvesa vinirmuktau madhye brahma prasarpati 11126 11 

na dvesham bhaavayet kva apina raagam bhaavayet kvachit 
raaga dvesha vi-nir-muktau madhye brahma pra-sarpati 

Abandon all these attitudes 
Of wanting to prolong pleasure 
And avoid suffering. 

Let the heart be itself and feel 
Whatever is there. 

Freed from clinging and avoiding, 
The heart regains its poise 
And revels in creation. 

Plunging deep into its center, 
Discover that the heart is moved 
By a pulse that is everywhere. 



doH^H ^cFTnTo3TUR\9|! 

yad avedyam yad agrahyam yac chunyarh yad abhavagam | 
tat sarvam bhairavam bhavyam tad ante bodha sambhavah || 127 || 

yat a-vedyamyat a-graahyamyat shoonyamyat a-bhaavagam 
tat sarvam bhairavam bhaavyam tad ante bodha sam-bhavah 

Holiness permeates everywhere. 

Senses cannot grasp it. 

Images cannot represent it. 

It is totally free— 

Free to appear as form, 

Free to be beyond form. 

Heart and body and mind in unison, 

Attend to the unimaginable. 

In the intercourse of unknowable and known, 
An awakening will be born in you 
As you join with that reality 
Which you already are. 



cM-ilfekl i 

*R: fc^TFkl®M*T !l?^ I! 

nitye nirasraye sunye vyapake kalanojjhite | 
bahyakase manah krtva nirakasam samaviset || 128 || 

nitye nir-aa-shraye shoonye vtaa-pake kalana ujjhite 
baahya-aakaashe manah krivaa nir-aakaasham sam-aa-vishet 

When you gaze in wonder at the stars, 
Become enthralled 

With the vast spaciousness between them. 
Space is an incomprehensible being, 

An invisible presence, 

Independent, independently wealthy, 
Without beginning or end, and giving. 

Space bestows an unbounded theater 
For suns, planets, constellations 
To dance their graceful orbits. 

Space offers you an infinite arena 
To play, explore, and experience. 

Receive this gift of freedom. 



^ ^ cTc^m | 

||W I! 

yatra yatra mano yati tat tat tenaiva tat ksanam | 
parityajyanavasthitya nistarangas tato bhavet 11129 

yatra-yatra mano yati tat-tat tena eva tat-kshaanam 
pari-tyajya ana-vasthityaa nis-tarangah tatah bhavet 

Set your mind free to wander anywhere it wants, 
Think any thought, 

Ride any wave, surge in any direction. 

The instant a thought springs up, 

Abandon it and move on. 

Don’t let the mind rest anywhere. 

In this way, gain entry to the bliss 
Of the silent depths beneath the surf. 


io 7 

5^T ^RRff^TTTWT^ II ? 3.° [| 

bhaya sarvarh ravayati sarvado vyapako 'khile | 
iti bhairava sabdasya santatoccaranac chivah 11130 

bhayaa-sarvam ravayati sarvadah vi-aa-pakah a-khile 
iti bhairava-shabdasya santatah ud-chaaranaat shivah 

We all tremble, we all know fear. 

Turn to the one life pervading the universe 
Whose name dispels fear. 

Find that name resonating in your heart. 

Luminosity permeates the universe, 

And the secret sound that hums 
Everything into existence 
Resounds everywhere. 

Listening to the inner sound continually, 
Become lovers with the Secret One. 



W^dMfdW^^yId: ! 

aham mamedam ity adi pratipatti prasaiigatah | 
niradhare mano yati tad dhyana preranac chami 1113111 

aham mama idam iiaadipratti-pattipra-sangatah 
nir-aa-dhaare manahyaati tat-dhyaana-preranaat shamee 

The next time the thought arises, 

“I want this,” or “I think that,” 

Grab hold of this “I”—perceive it by itself. 
Wonder, who is this “I”? 

I am animal, 

I am human. 

I am a loving heart, 

I am a questing mind. 

I am a particle of infinity, 

I am a witness to creation. 

I am consciousness itself. 

In meditation, embrace all these dimensions. 
Reach into the source: the luminous 
World of dancing energies 
In ever-changing relatedness. 



TO Slf^OT ^TFPTf^Md: \\U^\\ 

nityo vibhur niradharo vyapakas cakhiladhipah | 
sabdan pratiksanam dhyayan krtartho 'rthanurupatah || 132 

nityah vi-bhuh nir-aa-dhaarah vi-aa-pakah cha a-khila-adhipah 
shabdaan pratk-shanam dhyaayan kria-arthah artha-anu-roopatah 

Native of eternity. 

At home in infinity. 

Breathing immortality. 

Let these words sing in every cell. 

Oceans of splendor. 

Luminous energies of creation. 

Pulsating everywhere always. 

Hear these astounding words continually, 
Each phrase an invocation. 

Let the sounds ripple through you. 

Resonate with the all-pervading hum of truth 
And know, every fleeting moment is 
Supported by forever. 



l^cl^Ts^dld^ ^tUl^iVlSFT^?]; ||?33|| 

atattvam indrajalabham idam sarvam avasthitam | 
kim tattvam indrajalasya iti dardhyac chamam vrajet || 133 

a-tattvam indra-jaalah-aa-bham idam sarvam ava-sthtam 
kim tattvam indra-jaalasya iidaardhyaat shamam vrajet 

The juggler with her spinning torches 
Conjures dazzling wheels of fire. 

The magician taps his wand and suddenly 
A net of jewels sparkles in the darkness. 

What do we love in magic? 

Each gesture is a kind of jest, 

Inviting us beyond itself 
Into the deepest magic of all- 
God alone is. 

All that we see 
Is the performance 
Of the Divine Magician. 

Stand at the center of this wonder, 

And breathe the wild serene. 




atmano nirvikarasya kva jnanarh kva ca va kriya | 
jnana yatta bahir bhava atah sunyam idam jagat 11134 11 

aatmanh nir-vi-kaarasya kvajnaanam kva cha vaa kriyaa 
jnaana-yattaa bahih-bhaavaa atah shoonyam idam jagat 

There is no image you can hold, 

No thought you can think, 

That encompasses the Great Self. 

Your essence 

Is immortal and unchanging, 

Yet it is the foundation for all that moves. 

Rest in the shimmering emptiness 
That is the source of this world, 

And remember who you are. 



5^ m Rd^d: limn 

na me bandho na mokso me bhitasyaita vibhisikah | 
pratibimbam idam buddher jalesv iva vivasvatah 11135 

na me bandhah na mokshah me bheetasya etaa vi-bheeshikaah 
priti-bimbam idam bhuddhehjaleshu iva vi-vasvatah 

Bhairava says, 

Not for Me, bondage. 

Not for Me, liberation. 

I am beyond such nonsense. 

The sun is not trapped 
When it shines in a river, 

Illuminating the lives of the fishes. 

Nor is the sun freed again 
When it reflects off a ripple 
Back into the sky. 

Bondage, freedom— 

Notions arising from fear and separation. 
Look upon the universe and see only Me. 


Insight Verses 

In the final verses 136-162, Bhairava offers encouragement to make these practices your own. 
Discover the ones that are always going on spontaneously in your deepest being and know that the 
elixir of life is always available to you. Devi is suffused with delight and embraces her lover. 


Insight Verses 136-138 

sPsHJgkch | 

Wk-nR 3ckt ||R$ I! 

indriya dvarakam sarvarh sukha duhkhadi sangamam | 
itindriyani santyajya svasthah svatmani vartate || 136 || 

indriya-dvaarakam sarvaam sukha-duhkha aadi sangamam 
iti indriyaanisam-tyajya sva-sthah sva-aatmanivartate 

Consider all the pain and all the pleasure 

You have ever experienced 

As waves on a very deep ocean which you are. 

From the depths, witness those waves, 

Rolling along so bravely, always changing, 
Beautiful in their self-sustaining power. 

Marvel that once, you identified with 
Only the surface of this ocean. 

Now embrace waves, depths, undersea mountains, 
Out to the farthest shore. 


^ Tillich I : | 


^TFRT ^FTT Alt^rR '3TTc 3 TT ^ \ 

^T^qlr^tnr^RT^#^^: wucw 

jnana prakasakam sarvarh sarvenatma prakasakah | 
ekam eka svabhavatvat jnanamjneyam vibhavyate || 137 || 
manasam cetana saktir atma ceti catustayam | 
yada priye pariksinam tada tad bhairavam vapuh 11138 11 

jnaana pra-kaashakam sarvam sarvena-aatmaa pra-kaashakah 
ekam eka sva-bhaavatvaatjnaanamjneyam vi-bhaavyate 
maanasam chetanaa shaktih aatmaa cha iichatushtayam 
yadaa priye pari-ksheenam tadaa tat bhairavam vapuh 

The light of consciousness illumines the world. 
The world reflects this splendor. 

Energy and matter, essence and manifestation, 
Reveal each other to each other. 

Individual soul and cosmic energy, 

Pulsing heart and infinite awareness— 

Are secret lovers, always merging in oneness. 
When the secret slips out, there is laughter 
And a flash of brilliance in the air. 


Insight Verses 139-140 


R33x1 W\ Kid: I 
gT^^-qfir^r ^ wmj %ihrm ift limn 

nistararigopadesanam satam uktam samasatah | 
dvadasabhyadhikamdeviyajjnatvajnanavijjanah || 139 || 

nis-tarangah upa-deshaanaam shatam uktam samaasatah 
dvaa-dashaabhih adi-hkam deviyatjnaa tvaajnaanavitjanah 

Shining One, 

In these teachings I have given you 
More than a hundred and twelve ways 
Of entering the stillness beneath the waves. 
Cherish any one of these; make it your own. 
Embody your inborn wisdom. 


^T?TT^rt^c},^llu| ^lim^Jj^Kcb: ||?Vo || 

atra caikatame yukto jay ate bhairavah svayam | 
vaca karoti karmani sapanugraha karakah 11140 11 

atra cha eka tame yuktahjaayate bhairavah svayam 
vaachaa karoti karmaanishaapta-anu-graha-kaarakah 

Establish yourself in even one of these practices. 
Join with the Goddess and God 
Who are making love 
In every particle of creation. 

Honor the power of speech, 

And with every breath, 

Bless the life that surrounds you. 


Insight Verses 141-143 

3T^KIH<d W rRi tflSpHlR|i u llP=ld: I 
(M^^cRdlMchlt^: ||W|[ 

ajaramaratam eti so'nimadigunanvitah | 
yoginmam priyo devi sarva melapakadhipah || 141 
jivann api vimukto 'sau kurvann api na lipyate | 

a-jarah a-marataam etisah anima aadiguna-anvitah 
yogineenaam pry ah devi sarva mela-aa-pakaah adhi-pah 
jeevan apivi-muktah asau kurvan apina lipyate 

Delight in these meditations, my Adored One. 

Play with creation as it plays with you. 

Playing, become smaller than an atom, 

Travel through the expanse of space, 

Drink the elixir of immortality. 

Bathe in the stream of these life-giving teachings. 
Flirt with the tingling sparks of vitality 
Surging through your body. 

Live your whole life as a festival, a celebration, 
Liberated in love and work. 


^k\ 3TTO W. \ 

sri devi uvaca | 

idamyadi vapur deva parayas ca mahesvara || 142 || 
evam ukta vyavasthay am japyate ko japas ca kah | 
dhyayate ko mahanatha pujyate kas ca trpyati 11143 | 
huyate kasya va homo yagah kasya ca kim katham | 

shree devee uvaacha: 

idamyadivapuh deva paraayaah cha maha-eeshvara 
evam ukta vi-ava-sthaay am japyate kahjapah cha kah 
dhyaayate kaha mahaa-naatha poojyate kah cha trpyati 
hooyate kasya vaa homahyaagah kasya cha kim katham 

The Goddess then asks, 

If this is the nature of the universal Self, 

Then who is to be worshipped? 

Who do I invoke, and who do I meditate upon? 

To whom do I offer oblations, 

To whom do I sacrifice? 
if everything is divine, 

And consciousness merges with that divine essence, 
Then what happens to the distinction 
Between worshipper and worshipped? 


Insight Verses 144-146 



W- #S^F^T^TTt^^lcEl ^fwtfAT: \\U H 
fc^TFT f? f^lcTT 

T 5 ITfRT ATCfc#JJ*iF WlHWFT[ ||m 

sri bhairava uvaca | 

esatra prakriya bahya sthulesv eva mrgeksane 11144 11 
bhuyo bhuyah pare bhave bhavana bhavyate hi ya | 
japah so 'tra svayarh nado mantratmajapya idrsah || 145 || 
dhyanam hi niscala buddhir nirakara nirasraya | 
na tu dhyanam sariraksi mukha hastadi kalpana 11146 11 

shree bhairava uvaacha 

eshaa atra pra-kriyaa baahyaa sthooleshu eva mriga-eekshane 
bhooyah-bhooyah pare bhaave bhaavanaa bhaavyate hiyaa 
japah sah atra svayam nadah mantra-aatmaajapya eedrishah 
dhyaanam hinish-chalaa buddhih nir-aa-kaaraa nir-aa-shrayaa 
na tu dhyaanam shareera-akshimukha-hasta aadikalpanaa 


The Lord Who Shines In Us All replied, 

Oh Goddess, the practices you are speaking of 
Refer only to the externals. 

When you enter into the great Self, 

All prayers go on inside you spontaneously 
Without ceasing. 

In reality, all songs of gratitude 
And ecstatic lovemaking are resonating in 
Every particle of creation at every moment. 
When you are established in this recitation, 

You are listening, and you hear them. 

Plunging without reservation 
Into the ocean of bliss is meditation. 

No image, no thoughts, no prop. 

Concentrating on the image of a god 

With a body, eyes, and mouth is not meditation. 


Insight Verses 147-148 


WJ : ||?V\9|| 

puja nama na puspadyair ya matih kriyate drdha | 
nirvikalpe maha vyomni sa puja hy adaral layah || 147 11 

poojaa-naama na pushpa aadyaihyaa matih kriyate dridhaa 
nir-vi-kalpe mahaa-vyomnisaa poojaa hiaa-daraat layah 

Worship does not mean offering flowers. 

It means offering your heart 
To the vast mystery 
Of the universe. 

It means letting your heart pulse 
With the life of the universe, 

Without thought and without reservation. 

It means being so in love 

That you are 

Willing to dissolve 

And be recreated in every moment. 


^Rdlchkdl \\U6\\ 

atraikatama yuktisthe yotpadyeta dinad dinam | 
bharita karata satra trptir atyanta purnata || 148 || 

atra eka-tama yuktisthe yaa ut-padyeta dinaat dinam 
bharitaa-kaarataa saa atra tripth. atyanta-poomataa 

Being transformed by even one of these practices, 
Fullness of experience develops breath by breath. 
One day the desire of the self for the great Self 
Is consummated. 

Come ready for that moment! 


Insight Verses 149-150 

pt R-RTT *TT*f¥ 4cH 1 ^ I \\tt% || 

maha sunyalaye vahnau bhutaksa visayadikam | 
huyate manasa sardham sa homas cetana sruca || 149 || 

mahaa-shoonya-aa-laye vahnau bhootaa-aksha-vishaya-aadikam 
hooyate manasaa saardham sa homah chetanaa sruchaa 

The real transmutation, 

The most sacred offering, 

Is to pour the elements of your body, 
All of your sensual impressions, 

Into the fire of the Great Void. 

Your richness of experience 

Is the wine you offer 

To the divinity that is everywhere. 


^Woq^TTqrRT 5TMIr5rfFq ||?H°I! 

yago 'tra paramesani tustir ananda laksana | 
ksapanat sarva papanam tranat sarvasya parvati || 150 || 

yaagah atra parama-eeshaani tushtih aananda-lakshanaa 
kshapanaat sarva-paapaanaam traanaat sarvasya paarvati 

The real sacrifice 
Is to let your sins be destroyed 
By the vast power of the universe. 
It is to live in radiant bliss. 

Senses dissolve, mind dissolves, 
The objects of sense dissolve, 

Even the void is dissolved. 

This is transcendence. 


Insight Verses 151-152 


OT^^ITTOT cf^BT 1 J3fT ||M|I 

rudra sakti samavesas tat ksetram bhavana para | 
anyatha tasya tattvasya ka puja kas ca trpyati 1115111 

rudra-shakti-sam-aa-veshah tat-kshetram bhaavanaa paraa 
anyathaa tasya tattvasya kaa poojah kah cha tripyati 

Emanating from the embrace 

Of the Goddess and her God 

Is a wheel of delicious divine energies. 

The center of this wheel 
Is right where you are. 

Live here, and let your heart stream 
With an unending flow of adoration. 
In this way, tend the altar of love. 


^Tc*Tl H I 
^k-HH: ^TFT*T #^Tcm; limil 

svatantrananda cin matra sarah svatma hi sarvatah | 
avesanam tat svarupe svatmanah snanam Iritam || 152 || 

sva-tantra-aananda chit-maatra-saarah sva-aatmaa hi sarvatah 
aa-veshanam tat sva-roope sva-aatmanah snaanam eertiam 

The real purification with water 
Is to bathe in the essence of eternity 
And stand in your true body— 
Stunning autonomy, luminous bliss, 
Invisible consciousness pulsating 
Always, in every direction. 


Insight Verses 153-154 


z\^^dp-. w$: limn 

yair eva pujyate dravyais tarpyate va paraparah | 
yas caiva pujakah sarvah sa evaikah kva pujanam 11153 

yair eva poojyate dravyah. tarpyate vaa para-a-parah 
yah cha eva poojakah sarvah sa eva ekah kva poojanam 

The flowers, the incense, 

Grain, spices, and honey 
Offered in ritual 

Are made out of the same divine stuff as you. 
Who then is worshipped? 


si^ky I u ll I ffd: I 

sfafcHT ¥T iR^TTqTNTT || W || 

vrajet prano visej jiva icchaya kutila krtih | 
dirghatma sa maha devi para ksetram parapara || 154 || 

vrajet praanah vishetjeeva thchhayaa kudaa-kritih 
deergha-aatmaa saa mahaa-devee para-kshetram para-a-paraa 

Breath flows in, breath flows out, 

Traveling always the curving path of the Goddess. 
Breath flows spontaneously of its own will. 

Thus all breathing beings 
Continually give reverence to Her. 

Be conscious of this unconscious prayer, 

For She is the most holy place of pilgrimage. 

She wishes for you to enter this temple, 

Where each breath is adoration 
Of the infinite for the incarnate form. 


Insight Verses 155-156 



cHTT^TT 'HfllRg: <TC*T^HI^Id ||m || 

asyam anucaran tisthan mahananda maye 'dhvare | 
taya devya samavistah param bhairavam apnuyat 11155a 11 

asyaam anu-charan tishthan mahaa-aananda-maye adhvare 
tayaa devyaa sam-aa-vishtah param bhairavam aapnuyaat 

Breath flows 

Into this body 

As a nectar of the gods. 

Every breath is a whisper 
Of the Goddess: 

“Here is the ritual I ask of you— 
Be the cup 

Into which I pour this bliss, 

The elixir of immortal peace.” 


^cM>| ^T?^iTd $dp\\u\ | 

^ frcW limn 

^ft^TT: ||?^|| 

sa karena bahir yati ha karena viset punah | 
hamsa hamsety amurh mantramjivojapati nityasah || 155b || 
sat satani diva ratrau sahasranyekavimsatih | 
japo devyah samuddistah sulabho durlabho jadaih || 156 ||| 

sa-kaarena bahir yaati ha-kaarena vishet punah 
hamsa-hamsa itiamum mantramjeevajapatinityashah 
shat-shataani divaa-raatrau sahasraani eka-vimshath 
japah devyaah sam-ud-dishtah su-labhah dur-labhahjadaih 

The breath flows out with the sound sa, 

The breath flows in with the sound ha. 

Thus thousands of times a day, 

Everyone who breathes is adoring the Goddess. 

Know this, and be in great joy. 

Listen to the ongoing prayer that is breath. 

Life shall dance in you 
A dance of ever-renewing delight. 


Insight Verses 157-159 


dccbt«Rt ^ *W\ IJJd^WT I 

g^T^TTg^T^T [|?KV3|| 

ity etat kathitam devi paramamrtam uttamam | 
etac ca naiva kasyapi prakasyam tu kadacana 11157 | 

frietat kathitam devi parama-amritam uttamam 
etat cha na eva kasya apipra-kaashyam tu kadaa-chana 

Adorable Goddess, 

These practices are a nectar I share with you. 
Drink from this cup whenever you are thirsty 
Or crave to be refreshed in the essence of life. 

Know that this ambrosia is available to you 
Everywhere, for the universe is made out of it. 
Simply go to the intersection of flesh and spirit, 
Breathe the tiny sparks that fly. 

Within this very body 

Are many gateways to the infinite, 

Where incarnation and immortality 
Consummate their passion for each other. 


3<SHlu||H dHdlHHI^ ||?Kd|| 


para sisye khale krure abhakte guru padayoh | 
nirvikalpa matinarh tu viranam unnatatmanam || 158 || 
bhaktanam guru vargasya datavyam nirvisankaya | 
gramo rajyam puram desah putra dara kutumbakam 11159 11 

para-shishye khale kroore a-bhakte guru paadayoh 
nir-virkalpa-mateenaam tu veeraanaam unnata-aatmanaam 
bhaktaanam guru vargasya daatavyam nir-vi-shankayaa 
graamo raajyam puram deshah putra-daara-kutumbakam 

Share these teachings 

With all generous-hearted people 

Who come your way and ask. 

When you meet someone 
Whose heart is vibrating 
With the flow of love, 

Let your words and energies 
Be free as your breathing. 


Insight Verses 160 

r> . ■■■■.rs. : ..■ T r-> _ ^ \rs L . r>_ _ v , 

ott srfr yr^idoxn ^ n?$°!i 

sarvam etat parityajya grahyam etan mrgeksane | 
kim ebhir asthirair devi sthiram param idam dhanam | 
prana api pradatavya na deyam paramamrtam || 16011 

sarvam etat pari-tyajya graahyam etat mriga-eekshane 
kim ehhk a-sthiraih devi sthiram param idam dhanam 
praana apipra-daatavyatina deyam parama-amritam 


Friends, relatives, neighbors, people who abide 
In your village, city, country— 

Be not concerned with their attitudes 
Toward these teachings. 

Everyone is discovering the intimate universe 
In their own way. 

This nectar is here 

Within every breath, every desire, every transition 
From waking to sleeping and sleeping to waking. 

Once you have set out on the path of intimacy 
With the immortal essence of life, 

Never turn your back on it, my Shining One. 

Never turn away. 

Though every moment be surprising, 

Revelatory, unrecognizable, and full of wonder, 
Continue to cherish each breath. 

Live in gratitude for the ambrosia we imbibe 

In each turning, outbreath to inbreath into outbreath. 


Insight Verses 161-162 


w*rmH?F^rFin?$? h 

^Tfw^FTt IrlH-ei ^ | 

5c^c^Hf^'cTI ^ cTQTR tWT 3 ||?WI 

sri devi uvaca | 

deva deva mahadeva paritrptasmi sankara | 
rudrayamala tantrasya saram adyavadharitam || 1611| 
sarva sakti prabhedanam hrdayam jnatam adya ca | 
ity uktvanandita devi kanthe lagna sivasya tu || 162 || 

shree devee uvaacha 

deva-deva mahaa-deva pari-tripta asmishankara 
rudra-yaamala-tantrasya saaram adya ava-dhaaritam 
sarva-shaktipra-bhedaanaam hridayamjnaatam adya cha 
itiuktvaa aanandiaa devee kanthe lagnaa shivasya tu 


Devi replies, 

You whose drum is the pulse of creation, 

You whose dance is the motion of all worlds, 

You who are more intimate than my very breath, 
I am suffused with satisfaction. 

My questions have led to fullness. 

You have sung to me of the ways of union 
Of the Goddess with Her God, 

Time and space, personal and impersonal, 

Energy and form, finite and infinite. 

You have sung the song 
Of being at home in the universe. 

Having said that, the Goddess, 

Radiant with delight, 

Embraces her lover. 





Yukti Practice Transmissions 

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra offers 112 meditation practices, each one an invitation to come in and 
be at home in yourself and in the universe. The practices are presented in verses made up of four 
to ten Sanskrit words, and every individual word is a tool of thought, a mantra. In this section, one 
Sanskrit word from each sutra is presented as a portal into a rich world of experience. Also on the 
page are hints for engaging with each of the 112 practices, a few highlights that may attract your 
interest when you are in the manyu (spirit, mind, mood, mettle, passion) to explore a particular 
sutra. These are intended to illuminate a skill you may find useful in scouting your inner world. 

In the meditation traditions, a transmission is an electric realization, an aha moment. Often, 
you are reminded of something you already know and love. You recognize a truth, and your life- 
force is awakened. In any given sutra, every Sanskrit word offers myriad opportunities to receive a 
transmission, because Sanskrit is engineered so that each word is often made up of five or ten 
images, each circling around a nucleus, a tiny thought. 

The nucleus of a Sanskrit word is often a principle. Take, for example, the word yoga. The 
nucleus of yoga is yuj, “to yoke or join.” The central principle is “joining.” Around this nucleus 
dozens of diverse meanings are orbiting: yoking horses to a chariot, calling up soldiers to join in 
ranks and form an army, putting an arrow on a bowstring, putting on armor, to embrace 
something or someone, to join one’s self to, to be united in marriage, injecting semen, joining up of 
the individual soul with the universal soul, joining up all the elements necessary to form a 
business, joining a series of words together into a sentence, and lining up all the elements of a 
trick, con job, or fraud. That is only thirteen of the meanings of yuj; the Sanskrit-English dictionary 
lists over fifty in all. 

As you get to know a Sanskrit word, form your own mental images to go with each of the many 
meanings in the definition. As you learn, little jokes and puns will pop up in your mind, and once 
you start combining words, the metaphors just keep on mixing. And in between these images, 
there is an emptiness that is always beckoning, inviting you to feel spacious and expansive. 
Learning to be entertained by the play of matter, energy, and emptiness is one of the central 
practices of meditation described in this text. 

Reading a list of Sanskrit word definitions requires an unusual kind of attention. You may want 
to take a breath after each phrase in a definition, or even go for a walk with it. Let the meaning in 
the image surprise you. In this way, one bit at a time, you can begin to learn to think in Sanskrit. It 
can take hours or even days to get the feel for one word, but you are learning on a deep level. 

For example, in verse 15, in the introduction to the text, Bhairava gives us an amazing word: 

Unfolding this word we see: 

Antar: Within, between, amongst. In the middle or interior. Out of the midst of. 

Sva: One’s own. One’s self. The ego. The human soul. 

Anubhava: Experience. Knowledge derived from personal observation or experiment. 


Perception. Apprehension. Fruition. Understanding. Impression on the mind not 
derived from memory. Cognition. Consciousness. Custom, usage. 

Ananda: Happiness, joy, enjoyment, sensual pleasure, one of the three attributes of atman or 
brahman in the vedanta philosophy. In drama, the thing wished for, the end of the 
drama. A kind of flute. The sixteenth muhurta. A name of Shiva. 

Within you, through personal observation and experiment, you can have the direct experience of 
contact with the soul and as a result of that knowledge be filled with happiness, joy, and sensual 

In the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, one of the words for “a practice,” or meditation technique, is 
yukti a variation on the word yoga. Yukti has the sense of “joining together the essential elements at 
the right time and place” and also “practice, skill, craft, workmanship, and art.” As we practice 
meditation, we want to be continually refining our craft, becoming more skillful in joining up all 
the essential elements of our own inner riches so that we can thrive in the outer world. 




Prana: Filled, full. The breath of life. Respiration, spirit, vitality. The five vital airs: prana, apana, 
vyana, samana, and udana. Breath as a sign of strength. Vigor, energy, power—with all one’s 
strength, or with all one’s heart. 


Bhairava begins the 112 yuktis with this invitation to Devi: urdhva prana— “as we exhale, the breath 
of life flows upwards into heaven, where it came from.” Urdhva is “upward moving, rising, to go 
upwards into heaven.” Prana is “the breath of life.” 

The next two words are adhasjiva— “as you inhale, the breath of life flows downwards through 
the body to the genitals.” Adhas is “below, down, in the lower region, the external genitals—and 
specifically in a woman’s body the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, and vestibule of the vagina.” 
Jiva means “the individual soul, the living or personal soul as distinguished from the universal 
soul,” and “the principle of life, the breath.” 

Breathing is rhythm, a play of opposites. Here you are invited to enjoy the play of prana, the 
universal breath of life and jiva, the individual soul, the way the breath of life condenses into you. 
Another play of opposites is up and down—upward into the sky above you and downward into the 
brightness of the pelvis. 

A good way to initiate yourself into this practice is to go outside, where you can feel the sky 
and earth, and take a standing posture. As you breathe out, let your hands flow upward along the 
front of your body to the area above your head. As you breathe in, let your hands float back down 
toward your pelvis. This is an easy gesture, as eloquent as conductors waving their hands as they 
direct an orchestra. After you get the sense of this wonderful flow, you can continue the 
movement in any posture—sitting or lying down or dancing. Exhaling upwards, give your breath 
to infinity. Inhaling downwards, receive the nourishing fullness of your individuality. 

As you exhale, whisper the word prana to yourself, and notice your relationship to the mystery 
of universality. Follow the motion upwards from your heart into heaven. As you inhale and receive 
the breath, whisper jiva, and notice your relationship with the mystery of individuality. Allow your 
attention to travel down from the space above your head, to the heart, to the area between your 
legs, and even to your feet. Everywhere in the body is spiritual and sacred. 

As you get used to this movement, add another motion: tilt the head back slightly as you 
breathe out, so you are facing upward, and tilt the head downward slightly as you inhale. 

The rhythm of the breath happens twenty-two thousand times a day. When you spend just a 
few of these times in delight and wonder, it begins to transform the other 99.999 percent that you 


take for granted. 

Breathing out, quietly celebrate, “I am part of the life of the universe.” Breathing in, marvel, “I 
am a living soul, an individual.” Jiva, meaning “individual soul,” also suggests that from the very 
first breath, you can modify any meditation instructions to suit your unique individuality. For 
example, if you feel enthusiastic, your celebration phrases could be, “Oh my God! I am alive!” 






Marut: Lightning and thunderbolts, roaring like lions. The flashing ones, shining ones, storm gods, 
Indra’s companions, children of heaven or of the ocean, armed with golden weapons. Wind, air, 
breath, and the five winds, or pranas, in the body. 


Marut suggests that breath is wild and magical, like lightning. Let go of your civilized self and 
welcome your wildness, your storms. You are part of nature, part of the earth, a dynamic and self- 
sustaining little system within the larger ecosphere. The electrifying magnificent heavenly breath, 
marut , keeps on quickening the life-force, rolling on, rotating (vartana), inwardly (antar) and 
outwardly (bahir). 

The practice here is to do nothing—simply enjoy the show as this magic stuff flows inward, 
turns, and then flows outward and turns again. Welcome the flash of sensations, emotions, 
thoughts, and breath. 

Lightning is flashing in the body. Breath is moved by a spark of electricity. Thoughts are waves 
of subtle electricity flashing through your body and brain. Your heart beats every second or so, 
and each pulsing of the heart is incited by a little spark of electricity. Welcome it all. Revel in it as 
you would the rain if you were a farmer. Prana and jiva, used in the previous verse, are both names 
of maruts. Breathing is part of nature. 

Breath is exciting, and it propels itself. It’s a charging, dynamic process of life, roaring along, if 
you want to know peace, let breath excite you. 

As you explore the sensations that are flowing in your body as you are breathing right now, 
you might consider one of these thoughts: 

I am awake to the electrtity oflfe. 

The dynamic power of breath is renewing me moment by moment. 

Nature is wild and serene , and so am I. 

When you use a phrase such as one of these as a tool of thought in meditation, pulsate with it. 
Whisper or think the phrase, very lightly. Then notice whatever feelings, sensations, or images the 
phrase evokes. Enjoy the sensations of breathing for a few moments. Then gently think the phrase 

Welcome all random thoughts, and don’t judge your experience. Anything you are tempted to 


try to block out is actually some part of your own life electricity and wildness—your marut energy 
—that needs your attention. 




Shakti Power and skill in the use of power. Ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability, 
effectiveness, efficacy of a remedy, regal power, the energy or active power of a deity personified 
as his wife and worshipped by the Shakta (sect of Hindus), the female organ (as worshipped by the 
Shakta sect either actually or symbolically), the power or signification of a word, the power or 
force or most effective word of a sacred text or magic formula, creative power of imagination (of a 


Shakti is power in all forms; she is the energy or active power of the divine. She is the power of 
generation and creativity, the power of words, the energy of mantras, and the creative power of 
imagination. Shakti is pranashakti the life-force expressing herself as the flow of energy through 
the body. Shakti is Mother Nature. 

Meditate on shakti as the dynamic breath of life within you. In the middle (madhya) of the 
motion of breathing, delight in the splendor of life. Attend to breath as play, enjoy the rushing 
motion toward the end of the exhalation and inhalation, and savor the tiny movements as the flow 
reverses from one to the other. 

There are little moments at the end of the exhale and again at the end of the inhale when the air 
is not moving in a specific direction. It is not still; it is like a river, with eddies and swirls, and the 
blood is absorbing oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide. A lot is happening, but it’s a quiet space of 
refreshing calmness. You can rest your attention in these turnings. A thoughtlessness opens up. 
In these moments, life is twiddling its thumbs, rebooting. 

In this quiet swirling, you can say to yourself: “I am filled with the power of life.” 

Or you could use a prayer or verse from your native religion to say something like, “God is 
breathing in me the breath of life.” 

You could think the word shakti as a mantra, uttering it as an inner expression of awe. 
Whenever you use a Sanskrit word as a mantra, whisper it softly for a couple of minutes as you are 
getting used to the word. If you really like the word, it will continue to resonate in your awareness. 
From there, you can follow it into silence and spaciousness. 




Kumbhaka: A pot, a measure. Ajar, pitcher, water pot, ewer (jug with a wide mouth). The sign of the 
zodiac Aquarius. 


With this sutra, we are invited to attend with tenderness to how we embrace the breath. There are 
many yuktis here. One is to consider the lungs to be a pot for holding the breath. Kumbhaka has the 
connotation of a jug of elixir, a chalice, a vessel used in ritual offerings to the gods. We revere the 
air flowing in and out of our lungs as if it is an elixir, and we hold the breath as we hold a chalice of 
some precious substance we are imbibing. 

In pranayama, you may hold the breath in the sense of stopping it. But in meditation, holding 
the breath can mean holding it as you would a lover. Holding is an embrace, a welcoming touch, 
contact skin to skin. In lovemaking, we hold the other person in order to allow them to move and 
allow ourselves to move. In certain sweet moments, the action pauses. Holding and embracing do 
not mean stopping the flow of movement. Embrace the flow of breathing as you would something 
infinitely valuable, and you will know peace. There is a world of skill in the way we receive, hold, 
embrace, cherish the breath. 

How do you hold a baby, a cat, a lover? How do you hold a note when singing? Develop a light 
touch in your practice, so you can hold a thought, a mantra, a breath, as lightly as you would a 
hummingbird that has landed on your finger. It alights on you. There is no sense of capture. It is a 
miraculous meeting. Many meditation techniques emerge from your skill at holding, embracing, 
and cherishing your relationship with the world. 

Meditation enhances our capacity for aesthetic perception and rapture. Put yourself in 
situations of such joy and surprise that your breathing pauses spontaneously in awe—“it takes my 
breath away.” As your capacity for this type of kumbhaka develops, fill it with the beauty of nature 
and great art, whatever is so beautiful you want to drink it in. 




Suksma: Subtle. Minute, small, fine, thin, narrow, short, feeble, trifling, insignificant, unimportant. 
Acute, subtle, keen understanding. Nice. Atomic. Intangible, intangible matter. The subtle, all- 
pervading spirit; the Supreme Soul. Marrow. Woven silk. 


Suksma has a range of meanings, including “insignificant, unimportant.” This is a teaching: what 
you are looking for is right here, but it looks insignificant to you. The gateways that open to your 
inner life are here, in minute perceptions easily overlooked. The inspiration and energy you need 
for your meditation practice is already present; tune in to the subtle aspects of your sensory 
experience that are so tiny they seem intangible and atomic. Be alert for that which is as fine as 
woven silk. 

You can think of suksma as subtle sensuous experience. You walk outside on a beautiful day and 
feel a tingle of sexual electricity, just because you are alive. It lasts a second and then disperses 
throughout your whole body. But your next breath is a bit more enjoyable, and colors seem 
brighter. There is a microscopic level of sexual excitement flowing around your skin. That is subtle 

Or say you are listening to music. At a certain moment, one of the players touches a string 
lightly, and the quiet sound moves you deeply. The music doesn’t have to get louder for you to feel 
its power. That is subtle sound. 

Or consider a moment when you are loving someone, and the lightest touch means everything. 
A delicate and slow touch can feel more intense than big motions. That is subtle touch. 

Subtle sensing is fun and freeing. You take more and more pleasure from less and less input. In 
this yukti, you are invited to take pleasure in subtle electrical sensations flashing through your 
body, from the mula, the root of your spine, through the sexual centers, into the belly, heart, 
throat, and head. The verse reinforces the notion of subtle and minute with the word kirana, 
meaning “dust, very minute dust” and “beam of light, like the rays of the sun, or moonbeam.” We 
sense the energy of life sparkling like dust motes, drifting slowly in a beam of afternoon sun. 




Krama: Progressing step by step. Succession, order, uninterrupted or regular process, sequence. 
The position taken by animals before springing or attacking. Method. Attainment of the object 


Sometimes when you are making love or meditating, the energy of delight will slowly build and 
flow through each area of the body, touching everywhere, tickling and massaging. Here the use of 
the word krama alerts us to notice both the progression of energy movement and the sense of it 
being poised to spring. Watch cats creeping up on something, step by step, and then crouching to 
spring. Observe this progression in your mind and body: A series of thoughts will lead up to 
something, and then suddenly a realization will spring into your perception. In sex, the energy 
builds up and then suddenly gushes. 

Whenever there is energy, there is the play of tension and release. In tantra, we are stretching 
our capacity to pay attention. In music, tension builds and then is released. In physics, tension 
pertains to stretching. In electricity, tension indicates voltage—the higher the tension, the higher 
the voltage. In sex and meditation, energy sensations may intensify in one area of the body until 
we feel we can’t take it anymore, then release and stream to the next area or dissolve in orgasm. 

We each have our own individual preferences in terms of sequence, which may vary from day 
to day. Krama suggests both inevitability and surprise. Attention is more engaged when we have 
the sense that we are going to get release, yet don’t know when. 

In your body, you may have noticed, there are areas of more energetic intensity, such as the 
perineum, sexual organs, lower belly, solar plexus, heart, throat, forehead, top of the skull. In the 
physical body, there are nerve plexuses corresponding to these interesting places. In the subtle 
body, the body made of prana, these networks are sometimes called chakras. The word chakra 
means “wheel, a potter’s wheel, an astronomical circle, a cycle of years or seasons; a whirlpool.” 
Your physical body is the center of a galaxy of subtle magnetism. 

Find the sequences that work for you. Don’t impose anyone else’s system of body energy onto 
yourself. Explore and make your own map. The chakras evolve through being employed 
appropriately; for example, your heart chakra develops by loving people, not by being forced to 
open. You will learn about your own internal sequencing through love and meditation. 

One of the amazing gifts of a healthy meditation practice is the ability to relax deeply into the 
ever-changing, unpredictable, always surprising, ecstatic flow of the life-force. 




Muktva: Loosened up, freed, let go. Having liberated one’s self, having attained final emancipation. 
Having put aside, excepting, except, save. 


Muktva is the energy of liberation—“I want to be free! I want room to live! I want to express all the 
life that is in me!” This urge is a primordial force, one of the strongest impulses in a human being. 
If you want to thrive in yoga, connect with this unstoppable force in yourself, and let meditation 
be a space to let your energy run wild. 

Each area of your body, each vibrating wheel of delicious energy, may have its own idea of 
freedom. Your sexual center may want a certain kind of contact, your solar plexus may want to 
feel powerful, your heart may ache to flow freely in love, and your head is concerned with its own 
agenda. One of the keys to a healthy meditation practice is to give yourself permission to feel all of 
who you are. Cherish all your instincts and emotions. As you introduce the feeling of muktva into 
your meditation, all your energy centers may start talking with each other about what they want, 
giving you fantasies and sensations. This is good. Enjoy the show and practice the skills of 
conversation. Let everyone talk and listen to each other. Consider meditation a safe place to be in 
conversation with your radical impulses toward freedom, whatever they are. 

When you accept a wild impulse of freedom and let it permeate your body with energy, 
attention gets attracted toward suksma, the subtle dimensions of your life-force, and a vibrant 
serenity emerges. 

Another key to freedom is to let meditation be a safe place to explore, where any and all 
feelings are allowed. You can let any thought or emotion come without editing it or controlling it. 
You don’t care what thoughts come and go, and you don’t try to remember them. All you need to 
do is make a simple decision: “I won’t act on any thought or emotion that comes during 

You give freedom to meditation by letting it be its own separate state of awareness, in which 
the body-mind system can explore new patterns of connectedness. Then, after meditation, with a 
clearer mind, you can make time for decisions. 




Purya: To be filled or satisfied. 


In a moment of great awe or delight you may spontaneously take a deep breath and hold it. This is 
a portal into ecstasy. Savor the experience. Shimmering energy permeates everywhere within the 
skull and expands outward to dissolve into space. In such a moment the world looks illuminated. 
You may have a sense of stillness, of time being suspended. 

You can bring a sense of delight into normal breathing by lingering for a moment at the end of 
an inhalation and enjoying the sensations of being filled to overflowing. 

Go to places of great beauty, whatever inspires awe in you, and inhale the wonderfulness into 
your body. Drink it in. You can also call up a memory of natural beauty, great music, or any other 
situation in which you would gasp in delight. Let this reverence, this state of wonder, flood your 
being, fill you up to the top, and then notice the way you spontaneously breathe. 




Hrdaya: Heart (or region of the heart as the seat of feelings and sensations), soul, mind (as the 
center of mental operations); the heart or interior of the body, the heart or center or core or 
essence or best or dearest or most secret part of anything. True or divine knowledge, the Veda. 


In this practice we are invited to enter the heart through the door of the senses. The first word of 
this sutra is sikhi “a peacock, name of Indra, the god of love.” In the tradition this text emerges 
from, a peacock feather is sometimes used in giving shaktipat, a heart-opening transmission of 
initiatory ecstasy. The peacock is the national bird of India, and the feathers are gorgeous. They 
shimmer and have multicolored circles on them. In the yoga tradition, these circles symbolize the 
senses, and this image suggests that we can receive a shocking transmission of divinity through 
any of the senses. The senses can be a pathway to the heart. 

Take any sense—touch, smell, taste, hearing, vision—and meditate on it through its full range, 
from the obvious level of information to the space between particles. When you follow any sense 
into its subtlest state and beyond, you will find yourself entering the heart of space. Notice how 
each sense works, what aspect of the mystery of life it tells you about. 

There are thousands of practices here. Track all of your senses through their full range of 
stunning beauty, from the outer beauty to the vibrant emptiness of their true nature. Follow the 
trail of that allure into the mysterious and powerful spaciousness that is the essence of matter, the 
heart of the matter. 





Patra: Drinking vessel, goblet, bowl, cup, dish, pot, plate, utensil, any vessel or receptacle. A meal 
(as placed on a dish). The channel of a river. A capable or competent person, an adept in, master of, 
anyone worthy or fit for our abounding in. An actor or an actor’s part or character in a play. A leaf. 
Propriety, fitness. An order, command. A measure of capacity. A king’s counselor or minister. 


When you meditate, you could use any of the objects of attention mentioned in the previous nine 
sutras—all those breathing and kundalini techniques—or you can use any thought that crosses 
your mind. Any object of perception—a meal, a riverbed, a person you admire, an actor—can serve 
as a portal into meditation. It can serve as a mantra, a tool of thought. Whatever is attracting your 
interest is a channel, a river for some kind of energy to flow into the world. If you don’t feel like 
doing an “official” practice, with breathing or mantras or energy running up the spine, just use 
what’s in your mind. 

Say you are meditating and start thinking about an actor. You may be musing on the way she 
channels goddess energy into the world. Your mind has not wandered; instead it is wondering 
—“How do I embody my own spiritual and sensual power? How can I access my full spectrum of 
energies so that I can work through the obstacles in my life? That actor may have kids, and yet she 
still shows up as a goddess. Maybe I can too, in my own way.” 

Welcome mind wandering and know it as part of the adventure of consciousness. Meditation is 
generally rhythmic: we pay attention to something for a while, then drift off and daydream, and 
then we wake up and re-engage with the mantra. The more you accept this cycle, the more 
refreshed you will be by all this inner journeying. So whenever you find yourself thinking of food, a 
loved one, or an actor or a character in a play, novel, movie, or television show, accept that as your 
mantra of the moment. 




Nyasa: Putting down or in, placing, fixing, inserting, applying, impressing, drawing, painting, 
writing down. Depositing, entrusting, delivering. Written or literal text. Lowering (the voice). 
Introducing. Consigning or entrusting anything to the mind. Mental appropriation or assignment 
of various parts of the body to tutelary deities. 


Nyasa can refer to ritual touching of various parts of the body while saying prayers or mantras. In 
so doing, you are awakening a quality of the divine and assigning or placing it in that area of the 
body. Here you are invited to introduce sacred qualities to the inside of your skull and to the crown 
of the skull. 

It is best to start out informally. Say something like, “I want my head to be filled with the most 
beautiful light, gorgeous music, and a view that goes on forever.” Just make it up. Don’t impose 
anyone else’s idea of the sacred on yourself. The space inside your skull can become a perfect 
island getaway, a concert hall, the entire range of the Himalayas, vast reaches of outer space, or a 
medieval church with rose windows and saints everywhere. 

You don’t have to stick with one thing forever. The decor inside your head can be just for today 
or even just for the next five minutes, and then you can redecorate. What matters is that you 
decide what you would like your inner space to be filled with—how many windows to have, how 
open to the outer universe you want to be. 

There are several healthy qualities you develop in this way. First of all, the activity of choosing 
activates your mental circuits and introduces freedom; the changed elements introduce the 
possibility of novelty into your perception, and in selecting what you want, you can develop a 
combination of being at home in yourself and being on an adventure. These qualities will serve 
your meditation practice in the long run. 

In this tradition, the skull, kapala, is an offering cup of brilliance dedicated to this infinite 
divinity in which we find ourselves. 





Madhya: Middle, the middle that embraces all. In the middle of the body, a woman’s waist. In 
algebra, the middle term or the mean of progression. The middle finger. In music, a particular 
tone, also a kind of meter. The middle of the sky. The space between (the eyebrows). The belly, 
abdomen. Ten thousand billions. 


This is a practice of wonder, tenderness, and connection. Explore the relationship between the 
earth below you, your body, and the sky above. 

In nature, magnetism flows between the opposite poles. The sun and the earth are polarities; 
the ocean of air above and the ground below are polarities. As you learn to live your life in 
conscious relationship with the above and the below, your own body becomes the middle, the 
madhya, and the magnetism flows through you. Your body is a bridge, an electrical circuit joining 
heaven and earth. Yukti is “joining.” A human being is something the universe created to link the 
below and the above. 

You might take walks and open up your senses to the sky above and ground below, then lie on 
the earth and do the same. You could dance or practice tai chi. You could visit places with a huge 
sky and places where you love the earth. Over time, learn to tolerate the sense of immensity both 
above and below. 

There is nothing to be forced. This is a love relationship. Give it time, give it flowers. Go on 
dates and pay attention. The text says devya taya —“by means of the Goddess this practice is 




Dvara: Door, gate, passage, entrance. Opening, aperture (especially of the human body). A way, 
means, medium. The Mahesvaras hold that there are six dvaras, or means of obtaining religious 


Doors can be open and they can be closed. Sometimes we long to close it all out, shut the door, and 
put up a sign saying, “Go away.” This yukti gives you permission to do just that. 

Close the outer doors of perception, dvaras , and open your inner senses. You can do this in any 
way that is attractive to you, such as wearing an eye mask and earplugs, meditating in a silent and 
dark room, or floating in a sensory deprivation tank. You could put your fingers over your eyes 
and in your ears in shanmukhi mudra. Most people can automatically shut out the outer world, 
instantly and without effort, whenever they find something interesting to attend to in the inner 

Alternately, use your hands to lightly touch and bless the openings in the head—the ears, nose, 
mouth, and eyes. In your imagination, create an energy shield around the head and around your 
body. Wrap yourself up in protective light. “Putting on armor” is the sixth definition of yoga in the 
Monier-Williams Sanskrit-EnglishDktbnary. Armor can be a prayer that gives you the ability to turn 
away or postpone unwanted energies. When you close the door to the outer world, there is a 
beautiful feeling of having just the right armor to protect your inner temple. 




Bindu: A detached particle, drop, globule, dot, spot. A mark made by the teeth of a lover on the lips 
of his mistress. A colored mark made on the forehead between the eyebrows. A spot or mark of 
colored paint on the body of an elephant. The sudden development of a secondary incident (which, 
like a drop of oil in water, expands and furnishes an important element in the plot). 


There are sudden and surprising developments in the plot of our everyday lives and in the 
adventure story of our inner lives. Sometimes the Goddess gives us a love bite, leaving a little bindu 
mark saying, “You are mine.” In the outer world or in meditation, you may see something so 
beautiful that your heart is shaken ( kshobha , “shaking”). It’s a glimpse of heaven, and you are 
changed. You are marked by love. 

You catch sight of perfection, and it stirs an inner flame, lights your fire. The sensation is 
almost orgasmic. The beauty out there awakens a subtle flame in your heart and mind, behind the 
eyes. Whenever this happens, welcome it and follow the melting into the heart. There is blessing 
here. Let the swoon carry you into the arms of divine consciousness. This is an initiation. The 
world is an open-air ashram, and the guru is everywhere. The Beloved is everywhere. The holy is 

When you look out on the world, be alert for what lights up your eyes. The delight is a kind of 
disturbance; it shakes you and awakens the fire within. It lights up your eyes, lights up your heart. 
You melt. This simple moment, which all tenderhearted people experience, is a door to the 
mystery of heart, if you meditate on this flame, you may find yourself dissolving and entering the 
cave of the heart. One of the high purposes of meditation— dhyanartha —is to be prepared to savor 
and cherish these moments when they occur. 





Anahata: Unbeaten, unwounded. Produced otherwise than by beating. 


Whenever you can, listen to waterfalls, streams, rivers, and oceans—any flowing water. Listen 
from different distances so you can appreciate both the steady roar and a distant hum. Sometimes 
go so far away that you can barely hear it. Meditate in all these places so you will become attuned 
to the rushing and to the whisper. The word anahata suggests that you explore and find the sounds 
that are particularly soothing to your heart. This is a good practice in itself, and it also attunes the 
body to other types of flowing currents, even internal ones. 

There are many rivers inside a human body, thousands of miles of blood vessels. That is just the 
physical level. On the level of the prana body, there is similar intricacy. This yukti invites us to 
listen to the flow of life within. There is a sound of your own heart center vibrating. You may hear 
it if you are finely tuned. It is the song of you, the vibration of you having this adventure in 
existence. It is always there, rushing like a river, a whisper. Once in a while you may hear it while 
meditating, especially in the early hours of the morning before dawn. No matter what your 
technique, sometimes the quiet roar will just be there. There is nothing you did that caused it. 
When this happens, simply listen and be with it. 

Hata is a term in Indian music meaning “struck, beaten (as a drum).” In Sanskrit, when you add 
a short a to a word, it means the opposite, so anahata is “unstruck”—the chord that keeps 
resonating without beginning or end. Anahata is also a term used in the chakra system to refer to 
the heart center, the wheel of life energy vibrating in the region of the physical heart. So right here 
we have one of those cheerful little jokes you find everywhere in Sanskrit: hearts beat—that’s what 
they do. And hearts get wounded. But there is a level of your heart that is unbeaten and 
unwounded. Any time you want, come take refuge here and be healed, in your essential heart that 
is steadily humming along. 




Pranava: The sacred syllable OM. 


Listen to pranava, the hum of expansive joy permeating the universe, reverberating everywhere, 
including within you. The shakti the divine power, will flood you with shunya, exquisite 

Pranava is usually decoded as pra (“pre, before”) plus nava (“shout, exult”)—the shout of joy 
that came before everything, the primordial sound of the universe continually and ecstatically 
singing itself into existence. 

Here are some of those stunning layers of meaning in Sanskrit. Pranava is the nickname of OM, 
and OM means “yes.” The cosmic OM is Creation saying yes to itself, its ongoing expansion. The 
dictionary describes OM as made up of a, u, and m. Notice the sounds people make spontaneously 
when they are feeling “Yes!” When the life in them is saying yes to a hug, a bite of chocolate, a sip 
of warm soup, or the perfect piece of music for the moment, they will utter sounds such as ahhh, 
oohh, and mmm. How brilliant of the ancient lexicographers. 

You can create a mantra by noticing what sounds you make spontaneously when the feeling of 
yes is rising in your body. The sounds you make in exuberance, delight, deliciousness, and 
expansive joy are your natural pranava. You want your mantra to feel like it comes from inside you 
and leads you there. 

OM actually has many official variations. Each meditation school has its preferred way to 
articulate it, just as different rock bands make up their own unique sounds. Eem is a form of OM, as 
is hum, hreem, and simply mmm. If you take any vowel and add mmm, you have a version of OM. 
These eeee sounds have a quality of “Wheel” They are energizing. 

Although we usually think of pranava sounds as being peaceful, don’t forget the definition: a 
roar of joy. When people are relaxed and at ease and expressing joy, they say things like, “Oh yeah! 
Hell yeah! Amen! Ahhhh-men/ Hallelujah!” Here is a fun exercise: Listen to twenty thousand people 
at a sports event, roaring at some play on the field. Hear it as a form of pranava. 

This sutra also introduces the term bhavana, which has a meaning of “steeping, infusion.” Soak 
your body in the feeling of yes, the vibration of yes, whatever that is for you. Let the hot water of 
your blood and your passion for life mix with your primordial yes. Meditate with that. Listen to the 
hum of it and follow it into the great silence. 




Shunya: Empty, void, hollow, barren, desolate, deserted. Absentminded, having no certain object or 
aim, distracted. Empty as in possessing nothing. Alone, solitary, having no friends or companions. 
Free from wanting, lacking, nonexistent. Vain, idle, unreal, nonsensical. Void of results, 
ineffectual. Bare, naked. Guileless, innocent. Space, heaven, atmosphere. 


Whenever you are practicing with acoustics—with sound or mantras—the sflence before you think 
or say the sound and the vibrant silence after you think or utter the sound are gateways. A mantra 
prepares your body and tunes your nerves so that shunya, the nothingness, is interesting. Shunya is 
not something your mind can grasp, since it is no-thing. The definition “bare, naked” suggests that 
the mind itself is naked. 

As you listen to any internal music, mantras, or vowels, notice the way the vibration alters 
your structure, sets the web of your subtle body vibrating. There is an infinity of tiny delicious 
sensations—the sensuous texture of your inner life. Purva is “being before,” and anta is “end of a 
texture, pause.” Texture means “web, structure, network, weaving.” As you become aware of the 
network of your nerves dancing in emptiness, in shunya, the sensation is unutterable. Even a few 
seconds of this can be as satisfying as an orgasm (well, almost). 

The key to this practice is not correct pronunciation of a mantra; it is the urge in you to 
explore the play of sound and silence, how the song of your unique life manifests itself in quiet 
inner harmony. The ancient texts say there are tens of mi ll ions of mantras, which is a way of 
saying that everything you could ever utter is mantric. All mantras are to call you home into the 
silence and vibrant emptiness. When you find your true mantra, it may be hard to remember 
because it is always fading away into silence and shunya, nothingness, space, heaven, atmosphere. 
Truth is what works. 





Tantri The wire or string of a lute, the strings of the heart, any tubular vessel of the body, sinew, 


Seek out the most rapturous music you can find and listen to it on the best sound system available. 
Live music can have an even greater impact. Music you love will teach you things about meditation 
and life that you can learn in no other way. Ask around, “What is the most beautiful music in the 
world?” Find a way to expose yourself to it so that you can let go and be carried away. Make time to 
give over totally. Be stunned. 

In other words, be a teenager in love with a band. In reality, what works for you could be any 
type of music—classical, kirtan, country, R&B, rap. What matters is you love it so much you want 
to dissolve into it. In a song, in the space of a few minutes, we can let go, lose ourselves, and then 
return, refreshed, with a deeper sense of self. 

Listening to music, we ride our passions into the vibrating core of energy from which they 
arise. Life is rhythm, and music invites us to surrender to the rhythm of life and love. This sutra 
invites us to begin by listening to external music and then to follow the impulses into the inner 
world. People who love music already know the truth of this sutra, and they are surprised and 
delighted to see it affirmed in a classic yoga text. 

The image in tantri is that of stretching cords or strings over a framework. This is the basic 
technology of a stringed instrument or of a weaving loom. The tan of tantri has a wide series of 
meanings, including “to believe in; to afflict with pain; to resound, roar; to extend, spread, be 
diffused as light over, shine, extend toward, reach to; to be protracted, endure; to stretch a cord, 
extend or bend a bow, spin out, weave.” This sounds like rock and roll to me. Tan changed in 
pronunciation to tar is the root of sitar and guitar. 

Tan generated a family of words that includes tantra, which has a totally mind-boggling 

A loom, the warp, the leading or principal or essential part, main point, characteristic 
feature, model, type, system, framework. A class of works in the form of dialogues 
between Shiva and Durga discussing 1. the creation, 2. the destruction of the world, 3. 
the worship of the gods, 4. the attainment of all objects, especially of six superhuman 
faculties, 5. the four modes of union with the supreme spirit by meditation. A spell. 


Oath or ordeal. An army. A row, number, series, troop. Government. A means which 
leads to two or more results, contrivance. A drug, chief remedy. Wealth. Happiness. 

All these meanings can be seen as the subject of passionate music. 

Whew! When you love music, you know that the vibrating strings of the instruments set your 
heartstrings vibrating in resonance. You know that music is the “main point” and that it is a mode 
of union with the spirit. You know that music is a “drug and a remedy, wealth and happiness.” 

What music is so ravishing that it leaves you in a stunned and pulsating silence, the “aesthetic 
arrest” James Joyce identified, in which your mind goes silent in awe of the presence of great 





Mantra: Instrument of thought, speech, sacred text or speech, a prayer or song of praise. A Vedic 
hymn. A sacred formula, mystical verse. Incantation, charm. The primary mantras being held to be 
seventy million in number and the secondary innumerable. A plan or design. A name of Shiva. 


Play with sounds that feel like food for your ears. The verse uses the word pinda: “Any round heap, 
a ball. A roundish lump of food, a bit, morsel, mouthful. Food. Daily bread, livelihood, subsistence.” 
These metaphors point to mantras that are nutritious. 

What constitutes a nutritious sound is different for each of us and may change over time. Many 
of the classic meditative mantras feel like sounds of nature, the hum of electricity, the eeeemmmm 
of power flowing through nerves. Other mantras feel nourishing, like food. What matters in terms 
of yukti, skillfulness, is finding the sounds you love so much you want to be with them. Here are 
some seed sounds to explore: bring, shring, bring, hung, aing, shyam, ram, aim, kleem, lam, vam, ham. 

Read comic books and look at how they write descriptions of action sounds. Cartoon sound- 
effect words might seem silly, but actually they are great examples of the thrill of shouting into the 
universe. These loud, all-capital-letter explosions can be easily seen and felt. Sense the explosive 
KABOOM! BLAM! WHUMPH! How about that great BOING when a guy is eyeballing a girl, or POW, 
THWIP, BONK when there’s a fight going on? 

What you want to develop are the sound effects that go with your unique inner life. Life is a 
musical, and these are the sound effects for your meditation. You can take energy and 
nourishment from them. 

Mantras are all around you, and whether you know it or not, you are constantly using them in 
everyday speech. Consonants fill our words. Sometime when you have a few seconds, explore 
sounds such as Hhhhhh, the raucous Rrrrrrr, and the exciting Ssssssss. Notice if these sounds 
resonate with you. 

It’s also great fun to listen to engines revving—those of planes at airports, cars at race tracks, 
lawn mowers in the neighbor’s driveway. Listen to bees humming in the garden or your cat 
purring. Listen and know that space resonates with the silent potential of all these sounds. Let 
yourself feed on them in the most natural and immediate way. 




Viyat: To dispose in various rows, arrange. To do penance. Being dissolved, passing away, 
vanishing. The sky, heaven, air, atmosphere. Ether (as an element). Name of the tenth mansion in 
astrology. A kind of meter. 


Consider all directions, simultaneously, as being dissolved into sublime emptiness. 

The many meanings of viyat suggest vanishing into thin air, perhaps accompanied by haunting 
and peaceful music. 

You could be in any pose—sitting, standing, lying down, floating in a pool, suspended in a 
sensory deprivation tank—and sense all directions simultaneously. 

Above me is endless space. 

Below me is endless space. 

Behind me is endless space. 

To my left is space. 

To my right is space. 

Within me is endless space. 

As the directions dissolve, so does your definition of yourself. This is exciting and freeing. If you 
are attracted to this exploration, start by letting yourself be with these phrases for a minute. That 
is enough. Maybe that minute will stretch into a few minutes. As soon as it stops feeling like a 
luxury, move on. Gradual is good. You might be with this thought for a minute or two every day, as 
part of your meditation time. Then, over weeks and months, enjoy the spaciousness you are 
perceiving as you move through your world. Don’t do too much. Always give your senses and your 
sense of balance time to adapt. 

When you do the proper amount of this type of meditation for your body and your lifestyle, 
you will feel free and have the sense of lots of space around you to move in and explore. Your sense 
of direction will get stronger, and you will be better at navigating in the world. It is as if you 
rebooted your whole relationship with space. If you do too much, you can get spaced out, as they 
say. Always fine-tune your practice so that you function better in your daily life. 





Prishtha: Standing forth prominently. The back as a prominent part of an animal, the hinder or rear 
part of anything. To carry on the back. The upper side, the roof of a house, the vault of heaven. A 
page of a book. The back of the body, the spinal column. 


When you look up at the night sky and see an arc of stars stretching from horizon to horizon, that 
is the vault of heaven. Prishtha suggests that you perceive your spine with the same sense of 
wonder, as if you are gazing into space. Each vertebra is a celestial sphere, made of emptiness and 

A simple movement meditation with prishtha is to get on your hands and knees and explore 
gentle curving motions with your spine. Imagine each vertebra is an area of the sky, with a few 
stars. Continue to undulate gently and get used to space above you, space below you, space within 
you, spaciousness permeating the whole area of your back. 




Sthira: Firm, hard, solid, compact, strong. Fixed, immovable, motionless, still, calm. Not wavering 
or tottering, steady. Unfluctuating. Taking courage. Kept secret. Faithful, trustworthy. Firmly 
resolved to. Settled, ascertained, undoubted, sure, certain. A kind of meter. A name of Shiva. 
Certain zodiacal signs. The earth. 


Take courage (sthira), take heart (hrd) that you are permeated with infinite space everywhere and 
you still exist. Get interested in the sense of spacious freedom permeating your spine, the area 
between your legs, and your heart. As you enter this feeling, find your way into steadiness. 

This is a shunya meditation, inviting you to firmly sit down on nothing; you are emptiness 
sitting, standing, or lying down on emptiness. The back is space. The area between your legs is 
flooded with space. The heart pulsates in spaciousness. Cultivate this feeling steadily, firmly. 

Develop these experiences, then meditate on them simultaneously (yugapad). As you develop 
the ability to perceive your heart and spine as space and to be with them as space, allow also the 
coexistence of both empty space and the appearance of matter. You don’t need to deny the solid 
nature of your spine; you are just contemplating that everything is made out of emptiness. A 
beautiful, clear feeling arises as a result. 




Nirvkalpa: Not admitting an alternative; free from change or differences. Admitting no doubt, not 
wavering. Free from thoughts. 


The yukti here is simple and direct: if even for just a moment you experience the body as free and 
open space, you become free. 

For example, put your arm out in front of you, and then take a full five minutes to bring your 
hand to touch your heart. Slow, subtle movement, if you choose it, can be so interesting that your 
mind becomes free of thought. The word used for this lack of thought is shunya, which means, 
among other things, “empty, void, hollow, nonexistent; bare, naked; space, heaven, atmosphere.” 

This sense of shunya can happen at times of transition, such as falling asleep or waking from a 
nap, getting out of the shower—anytime. It can happen in between any two thoughts. Enter the 
space between thoughts and experience your body as a void. In that brief moment, you will 
become free, one with your original form, your svarupa. 

One day I was sitting on the sofa meditating and idly wondering about this verse. Then 
suddenly I was inside the experience it is referring to. In a moment, I dissolved into void-space- 
heaven. It felt heavenly and totally normal. I was at home in the universe. Then I beamed into 
being myself again, back into my body, feeling very refreshed. Somehow, wondering about this 
sutra and thinking it in Sanskrit took me right inside. I needed access to this freedom. 

Entering the space between thoughts can occur at almost any time, spontaneously, in 
moments of grace, beauty, or love, but also in times of loss and shock. We go there any time we 
need to renew ourselves in our essence. 





Bhavana: Demonstration, argument, ascertainment. Feeling of devotion, faith in. Reflection, 
contemplation. Saturating any powder with fluid, steeping, infusion. In arithmetic, finding by 
combination or composition. The moral of a fable. 


Bhavana has the remarkable meaning of “infusion”—as when you are making tea, infusing an herb 
in alcohol, making a medicine to drink, or soaking yourself in a quality you love and need. To 
practice a bhavana meditation, think of a quality you would love to be permeated by, and soak in it. 

Steeping, infusion—you can think of this in various ways. One is making tea or coffee. You have 
some quality you want, the tea leaves or the ground coffee, and you mix it with water and let it sit. 
Voila, you have something new—not just plain water and not dry leaves or beans, but this magical 
drink. Sometimes we do this process just for joy. Infusion also has a medicinal aspect; we can 
infuse special herbs with water and make a tea that balances our body energies. And infusion has a 
meaning of “continuous slow introduction of a solution into the body.” There is a quality you need 
or crave, and by meditating on it, you slowly, gently, continuously introduce it into the body and 
introduce your body to it. 

Let’s go over the instructions for a bhavana meditation again. 

First, think of one, two, or three qualities you would love to be infused with. Ask within 
yourself, “What would I love to be filled with? What kind of energy? What quality of being?” You 
could write these words in your journal. Your words might be quite different from one another, 
such as power, peace, love or excitement, stabiity, clarity. 

Second, give yourself a chance to love each word, leisurely. Bond with the word; let your body 
be at home with it. 

Third, develop a rhythm of leisurely thinking of each word and then pausing to feel it 
resonating in you. Like when you drop a pebble into a pond, watch the ripples. You might think 
one of your words every ten or twenty seconds, so it takes a full minute to think all three. 

Get used to this rhythm: the word, the feeling of the word, the sensations and imagery, the 
silence after the word, then the next word. 

You can meditate in this way for five, ten, or twenty minutes a day. That’s it. You’re all set. You 
can do this with any quality you love or are devoted to or have faith in. 





Tvac: To cover. Skin, hide. A cow’s hide used in pressing out the soma. A leather bag. Bark, rind, 
peel. Cinnamon. A cover (of a horse). Surface (of the earth). A mystical name of the letter ya. 


This yukti explores the mystery of skin. There are several phases to the practice. To begin, simply 
dwell with the feeling that within the skin is vastness. Or, if you prefer, within the covering is 
nothing. After a while, something surprising happens—the dual perception of boundaries and 
spaciousness releases your senses to perceive reality at a deeper level, and this shift of perception 
stimulates changes in your internal chemistry. The senses get so happy to be doing what they are 
built for, their higher purpose, that they set in motion the manufacture of your own happy 

Note that tvac refers to the “skin used in creating soma,” the ambrosia of life. In ancient texts, 
soma is the mythical psychedelic plant infusion that gave the ancient yogis the ability to hear the 
mantras resonating in eternity. Soma is “juice, extract, especially the juice of the soma plant, 
offered in libations to the gods.” This juice was collected by moonlight on certain mountains. 
Soma’s other meanings include “the moon; nectar; heaven, sky, ethers; a drug of supposed magical 

Translated into the here and now, from the mythic to the somatic, the soma spoken of in this 
sutra refers to the process by which the body produces its own molecules of delight, which we 
might call endorphins. In the meditation tradition, soma refers to the body’s natural nectars that 
enhance perception. In this one little word, tvac, we see a hint at one of the central aims of this 
yoga, which is to stay juicy. These 112 practices open perception in a way that creates joy at being 
alive, at even the simplest things in life, and this deep appreciation tunes the body so it can 
produce soma, the intrinsic chemistry of delight. 

This is the way soma was explained to me when I was a teenager and first learning about 
Kashmir Shaivism. When I meditate in this way, inside is all free and open space, and the world 
outside looks like gorgeous art, luminous and ever changing. 





Samputa: A hemispherical bowl or anything so shaped. The space between two bowls. A round 
covered case or box (for jewelry). A hemisphere. The kurabaka flower. A kind of sex. Credit, 


Do whatever makes your heart sing, then listen in. What you hear is the primordial mantra, and it 
is a portal to your inner world. Samputa evokes the image of the heart as an infinite singing bowl. 
The word also points to the resonating space between two bowls—between two hearts, two 
chakras, two bodies. In tantra, samputa can refer to containing or covering the jewel of one mantra 
with another, for example Om Hrim Om. Aha would be a good covering mantra, because it is a 
palindrome. Aha Shiva Aha would be a samputa mantra. 

Samputa also refers to a series of poses in the yoga of sex. Shiva is saying to Shakti, “Under the 
bowl of the infinite sky, let us make love. I am infinite consciousness; you are divine creative 
energy. Let us lie together and move through the samputa poses, sharing our secrets of love. May 
the delight-filled Goddess energy join with the infinite I-AM consciousness, as equals.” 

In this yukti, the aspect of you that is Shakti, the vibrant energy of life, is lying with her lover, 
Shiva, who is your essential consciousness, and magnetism is flowing between these polarities. 
Samputa is also “the space between”—the space between jewel boxes—and this space is lush with 
juicy, flowing energy that hums with an ecstasy about to gush forth. The ecstatic magnetism 
flowing between the Goddess and her Beloved gives rise to mantras. 

Samputa suggests that mantras emerge spontaneously from the vibrancy of the relationship of 
energy and consciousness. Listen to the mantra of the heart as if it is emerging from the sigh of 
lovers: ohhhh ... mmmmm... ahhhhh You might also hear a humming sound, like that of bees. The 
kurabaka flower is referred to in Sanskrit love poetry as “rich in nectar and a lure for bees,” who 
excite the air with their humming. 

The verse begins with hrdya , “being in the heart, inward, pleasing to the heart, beloved, 
cherished, savory food that makes your stomach happy, a delicious liquor made from honey.” In 
the heart you are free; there is open space, akasha. The samputa mantra resonating here creates a 
delicious liquor; drink and be refreshed. Allow your attention to alight here, as lightly (nii) as a bird 
settles on a tree. Follow any impulse of cherishing inward to the heart and rest in the vast 
spaciousness of what the heart is. Meditate on the current of love itself and let it call you home. 

Anything that has ever pleased your heart can be your guide. All that you adore, all that is 


nourishing to the heart, all that has ever made you feel like you are drinking the sweet honey 
nectar of life, is always here in your heart. Come rest in this splendor. 




Manolaya: Loss of awareness due to total mental absorption. Manas: mind (in its widest sense). Laya: 
The act of sticking or clinging to. To become attached to anyone, to disappear, to be dissolved or 
absorbed. Lying down. Melting, absorption in. Rest, repose. Place of rest, residence, house. Sport, 
diversion, merriness. Delight in anything. An embrace. In music, time. A kind of measure. The 
union of song, dance, and instrumental music. A pause. A swoon. 


There are sweet spots everywhere in the body—areas the mind (manas) loves to melt into and 
delight in (laya). If we take the definition of laya, above, and unfold it a bit, we hear something like 
the following: “If you follow the pendulum of the breath from its highest point, where it swings up 
into the head, to its lowest point, where it swings down into the vibrating area between the legs, 
you will find many places of rest—residences and houses for your attention to dwell. These places 
invite you to enter and be in enjoyment. The atmosphere is alive with music and dance.” 

Run your hands over your body and explore the places that feel like the union of song and 
dance—luxurious areas you want to linger in. Be sure to include the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Go 
get massage from a really skilled person and then meditate afterwards and chart your whole body. 
Do things that make you feel fantastic, and when in the height of feeling wonderful, sit down and 
meditate and sense where the energies are dancing. In lovemaking, notice the areas of heightened 
sensation where awareness is intensified. If you study the chakras, keep in mind that those are 
someone else’s maps of their body, a little sketch of some moment of their life. That’s their song 
and dance. What’s yours? 

If you feel called to lie down, swoon, melt into pleasure, then laya is working for you. The 
chakras are entertaining places to rest and sport with the energies of life and love. When you find 
an area you are called to embrace, give over to the sensations, memorize the inner dance of 
energy, and listen to the quiet inner music. 





Ksp: To throw, cast, send, dispatch, to move hastily (the arms or legs), to throw a glance (as the 
eye). To direct the thoughts upon, to throw away, cast away, get rid of, to utter abusive words, 
insult, to throw into, to cause to descend into. 


Select one of the delight-filled centers in the body and learn to be “centered” there as you live your 
life. This yukti is a continuation of the previous one, 27. 

First you may want to explore your chosen center only during meditation (or lovemaking or 
dancing or music). After a while, you may begin to feel at home in yourself and realize, “Oh, this is 
my residence—one of my many residences—and it’s good to be here.” After you stabilize in this 
perception, begin to explore being poised in that area as you move through your day. Practice 
being in yourself and “centered” while doing chores, working, talking, and loving people. 

Yukti means “skillful,” and if you do this yukti skillfully, you will function better and have more 
attention for the outer world, even though you are also attending to your inner delight. Ksp is 
almost a physical skill and can be approached playfully —throwing your attention, again and again, 
into your body, the way you would throw a baseball or football to a partner. Through practice you 
develop elegance, grace, and effortlessness. 

When you are in a sweet relationship with your chakras, you can turn to your essence in a 
moment then come back to the outer world without losing track of anything. You have more 
presence because you are continually refreshed in the stream of prana flowing through you. 




Agni Fire, sacrificial fire (of three kinds: garhapatya, ahavaniya, and daksina). The number three. The 
god of fire. The fire of the stomach, digestive faculty, gastric fluid. Bile. Gold. 


The yukti here is the relationship of the body and flame. 

It helps to know that biological life is fire. Our bodies burn at almost a hundred degrees, night 
and day, even if the environment is cool. Each cell is a little flame, a tiny hearth cooking up the 
sustenance of life and transmuting the elements into energy. The process of transmutation is 
called fire. The sun is fire. Our bodies are fire. The sun shines on the oceans, forests, and farms, and 
the fiery sunshine is absorbed by the plants through the magic of photosynthesis. When we eat the 
plants or something that eats plants, we absorb this energy and turn it into heat and energy to 
move with, in a continual dance. 

Get into this practice very gently, tiny step by tiny step, if you like candles, spend a few 
minutes appreciating one. if you like the warmth of the sun on your skin on a winter afternoon, 
cherish that, if you have access to a fireplace, make yourself cozy, watch the flickers, listen to the 
crackles, and absorb the warmth. Over a period of months, become intimate with flame as it relates 
to your body. 

I took several months getting to know this sutra, phrase by phrase, then memorized the first 
paragraph, “I am immersed in the flame . . .,” as my mantra. I let the words and the images and 
sensations they invoked roll through me, very slowly, in meditation for half an hour, morning and 

If you are called to this practice today, the flame of the soul is already here. It is a relief to 
snuggle up with it. This is a chance to rest, be at peace with, and inspired by the flame of life. 




Ananyacetas: Giving one’s undivided thought to. 


This is a flame meditation in which you recognize that the universe is made out of flame and always 
at play. If you are called to this meditation, you have a relationship with the sacred flame, and your 
awareness longs to merge with it. 

In Sanskrit, this merging is ananyacetas. Your intelligence, cetas, is made of brilliance and revels 
in the universal fire. The Self recognizes its own elemental nature. We don’t usually experience 
this cosmic reality in our bodies; our awareness is encrusted with accumulated worries about our 
place in the world. Thus, we develop a craving for radical freedom. In this meditation you are not 
praying that everything be destroyed; you are releasing your awareness into the realm of pure 
splendor. This is akin to meditating on being made up of molecules, atoms, and subatomic 
particles. It’s intense yet relaxing. 

Every particle of creation is aflame, a tiny sun. Everyone and everything is already one with 
God. Nineteenth-century Anglican minister John Henry Newman said, “Heaven and hell are the 
same place. It’s just that in hell people resist the flame.” It can be an extraordinary relief to sense 
that the universe is aflame. Get someone to explain a bit of astrophysics to you, so you can grasp 
that the matter in your body, all around you, everything you have ever touched or eaten, was once 
part of a sun. 




Para: Far, distant, remote (in space), opposite, ulterior, farther than, beyond, on the other or 
farther side of, extreme, previous (in time), former. Ancient, past. Later, future, next. Following, 
succeeding, subsequent. Final, last. The Supreme or Absolute Being, the Universal Soul. The 
highest point or degree. The wider or more extended meaning of a word. 


Wonder and awe are power sources propelling this practice. What is the world made out of? What 
is my body made out of? The technique is to take any element of your body and develop a subtler 
and subtler (suksma-suksma) appreciation of all its levels, until you perceive its foundation, its 
ultimate reality (para), the source of existence. 

You can use any schema of the basic constituents of the universe that attracts you—the 
elements of the periodic table; the Aristotelian forms of earth, air, fire and water; the five elements 
of Chinese qigong, earth, metal, water, wood, and fire; the Buddhist great elements or Mahabhutas; 
or the tattva (“thatness”) of Shaivism or Samkhya. Or you could make up your own system. 
Whatever element attracts you becomes your mantra, your tool of thought. 

One of the skills here is to find what fascinates you so deeply that you want to go in and spend 
time meditating in this way. When you discover an element that intrigues you, engage with it 
using all your senses and instincts. If you suddenly fall in love with the element of water, pay 
special attention when drinking anything, bathing, walking in the rain, watering the plants, or 
swimming. Take a hot bath and notice that there is water outside your body, while inside your 
body you are about 75 percent water. You could take your blood pressure and marvel that a fluid is 
circulating within your body. Notice what thirst is and develop a taste for simple, pure water. This 
practice is endless, because we have so many senses with which to see, smell, taste, touch, and 
hear the elements. We are not only built out of the elements, but we are also designed to love them. 
The particular sensory aspects of the elements we are attracted to are as unique to us as our voices 
and eyes. 

Para is the Universal Soul, and in practicing this yukti, you are asking Her to take you into her 
kitchen and let you see how bodies and planets are whipped up out of nothing, following the 
Cookbook of Creation. 




Svatantra: Independence, self-will, freedom, one’s own system or school, one’s own army, free, 
uncontrolled, full grown. Tantra: A loom. Metaphorically, a framework or network of 
interconnected threads. A system. From the root tan: to extend, spread, be diffused (as light) over, 
shine, extend towards, reach to, to stretch (a cord). 


With an external practice such as asana, you can imitate someone else. You can watch the teacher 
do a pose and follow along. With the internal aspects of yoga, such as meditation, there is no way 
to imitate anyone else. We can’t see what someone is doing if they are sitting there with their eyes 
closed. Meditation is internal yoga, just you and infinity. What actually happens inside you is 
unique to you. So with meditation, you need to begin with svatantra, freedom and independence, or 
else you will not end up there. You have to feel your way and follow your inner call right from the 

In meditation, whenever you sense restriction, be alert to the possibility that the technique 
you are practicing does not suit your essence. Perhaps you are imprisoning yourself in the name of 
discipline. Your longing for freedom is one of the most powerful forces in your being. Yoga 
emerges from this longing. When you feel like quitting a specific practice or discipline, it is not 
failure. That system may have worked to get you through a certain phase of your life. But you have 
outgrown it and are now being called to a deeper discipline, one more in accord with your true 
nature. Your yoga is evolving into a new form, which may be unknown to you for a while. 

When you graduate from a school, celebrate. The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra makes it clear that 
when you integrate one particular yukti and are ready to move on, another is calling you. Give 
yourself time to explore the practice that suits your life now and helps you to thrive in your inner 
and outer worlds. 






Bhuvana: A being, living creature, man, mankind. The world, earth. All three worlds—earth, hell, 
and heaven, or earth, psychic, and spiritual. Place of being, abode, residence. A house. Causing to 


This practice is a path of wonder, in which we allow our loving attention to engage with the 
inquiry, how did the universe—all these people, planets, and stars—get here? What course is the 
universe following? Adhva is “road, way, orbit, journey, distance, time, method, the zodiac,” 
suggesting you consider the revolution of planets around stars, the revolution of galaxies around 
their cores, and the nature of space and time. 

Wonder invites attention toward the subtle, the world beyond the world. This verse uses the 
phrase sthula-suksma, “gross to subtle.” Attend first to the obvious level and then allow awareness 
to be called into layer after subtle layer of this magical dance until you dissolve into infinity. Follow 
each perception from sthula, the massive, dense level, to the suksma level, the atomic. Then go 
beyond into para, that which is beyond—the infinite mystery out of which we have emerged. 

Don’t be surprised if your mind dissolves in awe after fifteen seconds. The mind is fast. Your 
natural speed might be such that once you begin to consider the multiple levels of this dancing 
universe, your mind might go silent in wonder within a few seconds. In a minute, you might cycle 
from contemplating the whole universe, to silent awe, and back again several times. 





Samanta: Having the ends together, contiguous, neighboring, adjacent, being on every side, 
universal, whole, entire, all, on all sides, around. 


In the course of a day, in our ordinary awareness, we forget the grandeur of the cosmos as we 
focus on the local. At any moment we can remember the immensity we are part of. In this practice 
we are invited to inhabit that simple truth: the universe is extending in all directions. Your body is 
the center, and above, below, to all sides, the majestic play of space and energy stretches out 

You may already sense infinity all around you and be slightly terrified by the vastness. This 
terror (jagadbhaya , “terror of the universe”) is natural and is one of the doorways into ecstasy 
(dvara, “door, gate, passage, opening, way, means, means of entering ecstasy”). You may be able to 
tolerate it for only a few breaths at a time. It is a very odd sensation to be standing in your garden 
or on a mountain and experience the earth beneath you as translucent, a little grain of sand 
floating in a boundless ocean. If you had the resources, you could build a room in which the floors, 
walls, and ceiling are monitors showing movies of vast reaches of interstellar space with star 
systems and constellations, worlds upon worlds. 

One of the skills involved in this practice is developing spherical awareness. Before and after 
meditation, stand and look in every direction. Extend your arms and move them as far in every 
direction as they can go. Now close your eyes and continue, sensing the nature of space all around 
you. In this way you gradually develop global, multidirectional awareness. As you get used to this, 
add multisensory awareness, in which you see, hear, and feel in all directions. When you meditate 
with spherical awareness, great brilliance arises. 

If you want to develop a verbal mantra to go with this meditation, it could be something like 
this: In all directbns, relatedness. In all directbns, intimacy. In all directbns, belonging. 

If you enjoy spiritual language, you could formulate a thought such as, The endless divine mystery 
is extending around me in all directbns or On every side of me is infinite God conscbusness. Modify the 
phrase to be something meaningful to you. Samanta is a beautiful mantra to go with this 
meditation and sums up all of the above. 

Another word in this sutra is maha, “great, strong, abundant, a feast, a festival, the festival of 
spring.” One of the side effects of this practice is that the world begins to seem like a festival. So 
take someone to lunch. Make dinner for a group of friends. If you are alone on retreat, feed the 




Vkint: To perceive, discern, observe, to think of, reflect upon, ponder, consider, regard, mind, care 
for. To find out, devise, investigate. To fancy, imagine. 


Breathe with all the meanings of this word vkint for a few minutes to open the space for your 
meditation. Perceive, discern, observe, reflect, consider, regard, care for, find out, devise, 
investigate, imagine. Here is a whole set of nuances to attention that are as distinct as different 

Each term used in the definition suggests a different style of attention, a particular craft-skill in 
your internal yoga. In any given moment, the quality of attention life asks of you may change— 
from discerning to pondering, from considering to caring for, from investigating to fancying, from 
reflecting to imagining. Each of these is actually a very different posture or asana for tending to 
your inner and outer world. 

An overall skill of meditation is allowing each surprising moment of your experience to invoke 
just the right quality of engagement. You may find yourself flowing from tending with adoration to 
studying carefully, then going off into flights of fancy—all in the space of a minute. This supple 
motion of awareness is how you let the process of meditating be so interesting that you become 
absorbed. The text uses the word laya, “absorbed, dissolved, sport, diversion, merriness, delight in 





Drishti Seeing, viewing, beholding (also with the mental eye). Sight, the faculty of seeing. The 
mind’s eye. Wisdom, intelligence. Regard, consideration. View, notion. Theory, doctrine, system. 
Eye, look, glance. The pupil of the eye. Aspect of stars. 


Whenever you have time and the inclination, throw your awareness into empty spaces, into any 
container—a pot, a room, or a huge meeting hall, any interesting space with sides or walls. If you 
want to go on an outer expedition, visit all kinds of spaces and sacred places, temples, and 

Be prepared to catch what happens in the twinkling of an eye. Notice what happens in an 
instant. There is a momentary dissolution, a quiet dissolving into space, then in the next moment 
you come back to yourself. 

People who work with spaces as their craft are natural yogis in their own way and often are 
happy to share their perceptions. Go talk to potters; learn how they see the inside of pots. Talk to 
architects and walk around a room with them; they shape matter to make space. Find whoever 
designed a temple and listen to them talk about the space. Interview an acoustic engineer who 
designs auditoriums. Seeing is beholding. 




& "v 


Vrt: Surrounding, enclosing, obstructing. A troop of followers. To turn, turn round, revolve, roll 
(also applied to the rolling down of tears). To move or go on, get along. To pass away the time. To 
be intent on, attend to. To have illicit intercourse with. To cause to turn or revolve, whirl, wave, 


The definitions of vrt make my head spin. Vrt is the root of vrtti a term often used in yoga to 
indicate whirlpools, mental vortexes. Vrtti has additional meanings pertaining to addition and 
occupation, working, practice, business, livelihood, and wages. Vrtti is also defined as the final 
rhythm of a verse, a commentary, comment, gloss, explanation (especially of a sutra). 

The sutra suggests you go to a place (desa) where there are no trees, no hills, no walls, and with 
open eyes, gaze at nothing. Behold that wide-open space. Throw your attention into that 
spaciousness. As your mind dissolves in emptiness, your addictions, preoccupations, mental 
whirlpools—the vortexes (vrtti)—will gradually diminish. No matter how many times the vrttis 
intrude, return again and again to the simple beauty of bareness. 

This practice is especially valuable when you are besieged by repetitive thoughts or worries, by 
old thinking that creates suffering. You can take a mental vacation and visualize a wide-open, 
boundaryless space. Sometimes there is nothing like actually going to such a place and spending a 
week just letting your mind empty itself out. 




Prakasha: Visible, shining, bright. Clear, manifest, open, public. Pronouncing a name out loud. 
Expanded. Universally noted, famous, celebrated for. Renowned throughout. Openly, publicly, 
before the eyes of all. Clearness, brightness, splendor, luster, light. Elucidation, explanation. 
Appearance, display. Manifestation, expansion, diffusion. Publicity, fame, renown, glory. 
Sunshine, open spot or air. The gloss on the upper part of a (horse’s) body. The messengers of 
Vishnu. Laughter. 


Prakasha makes me laugh. When the space between any two perceptions, thoughts, or objects 
starts shining forth, it is kind of a joke. One moment, space is just there, hiding out in the open, 
“No one can see me.” Then, with the magic of attention, the space in between becomes bright with 

The mantra (tool of thought) in this practice is the space between any two somethings—two 
breaths, two clouds, two mountains, two trees, two boxers in the ring, two teams on the field. In 
lovemaking, it is the space between two bodies, between two breasts. In a conversation, it is the 
space between two people. 

At first, the middle space may feel like nothing. But as your awareness shifts levels toward the 
subtle, the space between begins to seem like the most dynamic thing happening, a magnetic field. 
When you get this, the invisible somehow becomes illumined and richly textured, and this is such a 
wonderful surprise that you may burst out laughing. 




Niruddha: Held back, withheld, held fast, stopped, shut, closed, confined, restrained, checked, kept 
off, removed, suppressed. Covered, veiled. 


Focusing is easy when you are in love. When we are devoted to someone, we focus on them 
naturally and close ourselves off (niruddha) to other affections. For this practice, select something 
you are so interested in that you can pay attention to it forever—something you love so much you 
are willing to give up everything else to be with it ( tyakta , “left, abandoned”). Immersed in this 
love, witness the blossoming of deep meditation, bhavana. Keep cultivating your interest; become 
more and more intimate with this one person, animal, object, art, or skill. 

A universe of skills is required if we are to stay in love. Niruddha itself requires a light touch; 
restraint easily becomes suppression, and suddenly love feels like bondage. Yet not having enough 
restraint can endanger your primary relationship; a great love may light you up so much that you 
feel you can love the whole human race. Love wants to spill over, gush. But you can’t share your 
love physically with everyone because there isn’t enough time or space or condoms. We have to 
explore and find the right kind of restraint for each moment, each day. This skill set is ever 
changing, applying the exact nuance of holding and freedom appropriate in each heartbeat. 

Niruddha is saying, “Be loyal to your love. Keep on going deeper with this one.” That one baby, 
cat, dog, horse, woman, painting, piece of music, or garden contains the essence of the cosmos. 
One of the great gifts of meditation, where meditation and love intersect, is that meditation is an 
act of paying attention. As our attention grows stronger and deeper, we become more capable of 
staying interested in one person. They are new and surprising in every moment. 

When we bond with another person, with an animal, with family or a team, it is as if there are 
invisible strings connecting us with them. Each string is a nerve connection, a living current of 
prana. Whenever we are working with strings, we are in the realm of tantra, in its sense of weaving 
together the strings of life into a fabric. Cherish these connections. The sacred function of niruddha 
is not to block out the world, but to free you to attend to love. 




Deha: The body. (From the root dih, to plaster, mold, fashion.) Form, shape, mass, bulk (as of a 
cloud). Person, individual. Appearance, manifestation, having the appearance of. 


Meditate simultaneously on the universe and your body (deha) as being pure consciousness. 

Deha suggests appearance. We look as if we are solid and made out of matter, yet we know from 
science that matter is made of energy and is almost entirely space. Somehow our bodies are 
fashioned out of energy and space. In this meditation, you accept something deeper—that the 
matter of your body and the entire universe are made not just of energy and space, but on a deeper 
level, of pure consciousness. 

When you dive into this meditation, you are not a generic person taking a snapshot of generic 
space. Each camera and each lens takes a somewhat different picture. Each photographer has a 
different eye. Each of the bus-sized telescopes orbiting the earth reveals a different aspect of the 
immense cosmos we inhabit. You have a somewhat different set of life experiences than anyone 
else who has ever lived, and when you meditate upon your body and the whole universe as being 
made of consciousness, there will be nuances you perceive that may not have been known before. 
Even if your form is only as lasting as a cloud, well, so too is a galaxy just a cloud of stars. 





Vayu: Wind, air (as one of the five elements); breathing, breath. A mystical name of the letter ya. In 
medicine, the windy humor. In yoga, refers to prana, apana, samana, udana, vyana. In astronomy, the 
name of the fourth muhurta (a moment, forty-eight minutes, the thirtieth part of a day). The god of 
the wind, said to have sprung from the breath of purusa; he is said to move in a shining car drawn 
by a pair of red or purple horses or by several teams consisting of ninety-nine or a hundred or even 
a thousand horses; he is often made to occupy the same chariot with Indra and, in conjunction 
with him, honored with the first draught of the soma libation. Vayu is rarely connected with the 
maruts, although he is said to have begotten them from the rivers of heaven. Desirous, covetous, 
greedy, desirable, desired by the appetite. 


It is impossible to be appreciative enough of breathing. In the definitions above, each word and 
image points to something exciting and magical. A thousand red or purple horses pulling a shining 
car—what an image for the dynamic power of breath and the blood vessels that meet the air as we 
breathe in. The greatest skill you could bring to breathing is being in awe and wonder. Some time, 
you might want to take a year and track all the metaphors associated with vayu; make your own 
imagery, so that when you think or say the word, you perceive a rich mandala of meaning. 

Vayu also means “desired by the appetite,” and this meaning points to life itself as driving our 
practice. Life’s hunger for prana, for air, is what gives power to this practice. 




Ananda: Happiness, joy, enjoyment, sensual pleasure, the thing wished for, the end of the drama. 


There is a universe of practices encoded in the thirty-two syllables of this sutra. Notice that ananda 
is used twice, to emphasize that sensual pleasure and happiness are essential. Here are a couple of 
mantras you can play with as a way in: 

Sva ananda bharitam: “I am nourished and filled with the bliss of my soul.” 

Sva amritam: “I am suffused with the nectar-essence of life.” 

The verse also uses the word amrta (amrta): “Not dead. Immortal. Imperishable. Beautiful, beloved. 
An immortal. A god. Name of Shiva. The plant Phaseolus triobus. The nectar (conferring 
immortality, produced at the churning of the ocean), ambrosia. Nectar-like food. An antidote 
against poison. Medicament in general. The residue of a sacrifice. Anything sweet. A pear. A ray of 
light. Name of a meter.” 

You could begin meditating with the amrta that permeates your body— sva amrta— and as you 
shift levels, you accept that the entire universe is filled with your joy and your essence. Or you 
could meditate on the cosmos and your body simultaneously as being filled with your ananda and 

Bliss is a necessary foundation for yoga practice. Without it, the electricity of the life-force can 
grate on your nerves. Bliss is nourishing, and it suffuses, lubricates, and coats the nerves with the 
deep pleasure of existence. When you find bliss, notice and welcome it. Do not let any voices tell 
you that feeling pure joy is not a serious meditation practice. Bask in pleasure, shamelessly. 

Amrta is also “an antidote against poison, a medicine.” If you have ever gotten involved in 
service, working in the harsh, broken places in the world, you may need to get away and bathe in 
your own ananda and amrta for sustained periods to counteract any poison you have been exposed 
to. Amrta and ananda nourish and heal every cell of the body and sustain the heart as we live in the 




Kuh: To surprise or astonish or cheat by trickery or jugglery. 


Life is full of surprises, and one of the sacred functions of meditation is preparing us to be poised 
and ready to laugh, especially when the joke is on us. 

During meditation, welcome surprise, however it shows up—in thoughts, shifts of mood, or 
changes in your state of consciousness. Welcome the sense that you have no idea what is going to 
happen next in your practice. You could be feeling bubbly and energized and suddenly fall asleep. 
You might think you are sleepy and sit to meditate, and somehow you instantly feel energized. 
Before a meditation session, you might think you are in a dull and stupid place, and yet when you 
close your eyes, suddenly you are full of sunshine inside, and you feel wonderful. Accept that you 
have no idea which item of your to-do list will demand your attention. Your brain has eighty billion 
neurons, and they are all talking to each other. Your body has tens of thousands of miles of nerves 
and blood vessels, and they want a chance to commune with each other. When you welcome 
surprise, you are more likely to perceive the magic show that is our every living moment. 

And who knows? The universe, they say, popped out of nothingness. That is what magicians 
are telling us as they pull rabbits out of hats. We love being astonished. Joy rises in us when we 
accept the surprising nature of reality. 

Say you are at an outdoor wedding, where everyone is dressed up, the women have done their 
hair, and suddenly a rainstorm blows in and drenches everyone. That is one of nature’s tricks. 
There is nothing to do but laugh. Welcome the laughter as a gift of the divine. 





Srotas: The current or bed of a river, a stream, torrent. Water. Rush, violent motion or onset of. The 
course or current of nutriment in the body, channel or course for conveying food. An aperture in 
the human or animal body (said to be nine in men and eleven in women). The spout of ajar, an 
organ of sense. Lineage, pedigree. 


Prana is breath, life, vitality; shakti is power, energy, skill. This is a meditation on the power of life 
flowing everywhere in the body and through the channels of perception. When you understand 
that pranashakti is singing to you through all your senses, you will be filled with transcendental 

Srotas is “current”—currents of pranashakti or life power flowing through the body and streams 
of sensuous perception. The stream can be quiet or rushing and violent. The focus here is on quiet 
perception. Learn to be alert for these tiny sensations of the pranashakti as subtle as an ant walking 
on your skin, flowing through your senses. 

Srotas is also the flow of sensory nutrition; the sensual data flowing into your awareness is 
nourishing, if you don’t know how to receive nutrition from simple sensuous experiences such as 
listening to music, working in a garden, watching a baby sleep, or looking at art, go find people 
who do and spend time with them. There are people everywhere in the world, on every block, in 
every occupation, who know this secret. They have nothing to do with yoga or meditation; they 
don’t really need to, because they already know, inherently, how to practice this sutra. 





Yuj: To yoke or join or fasten or harness (horses or a chariot). To make ready, prepare, arrange, set 
to work, use, employ, apply. To equip (an army). To put arrows on a bowstring. To fix in, insert, 
inject (semen). To turn or direct or fix or concentrate (the mind, thoughts) upon. To recollect, 
recall. To join one’s self to. To be united in marriage. In astronomy, to come into conjunction with. 
To encompass, embrace. Exciting, an exciter. Being in couples or pairs. 


Yuj is the root of both yoga and yukti and has a similar semantic range. Yuj refers to all kinds of 
joining, including sex. In the embrace of exciting sex, we can feel like we are made out of 
happiness. We are in union with a flow of brilliant inner energy, and we are sharing it. We want to 
cherish every moment, to the last drop. 

In this meditation, you enter the fire of desire and prolong the experience of lust. As you join 
with your lover, throw your awareness (ksipet) right into the middle of sexual arousal, into the 
incredible joy, power, and fire of desire. 

Making love is the highest form of yoga—and the most demanding. You are called to bring 
every molecule of awareness and skill to each moment and be ready for anything. You need to 
attend simultaneously to the energies of your own body and of your lover’s. You have to be aware 
of every nerve that tingles in your body and in your lover’s and to sense what is needed—what 
embrace and quality of touch to give. 

The first word of the sutra, vahni implies that our sexuality is an elixir we are offering to the 
gods. The streaming ecstatic energies and sacred juices flowing in your body are here to assist in 
your enlightenment. All of the practices of tantra yoga may come to you spontaneously, in the fire 
and ecstasy of desire, to help you go further into divine awareness. Your body may turn into a pure 
hum of vibration, the essence of mantras. You may taste the nectar of life. The electricity flowing 
along your spine and skin may shoot upward into heaven and downward into the earth. You may 
feel as if you are dancing, immersed in music, or dissolved into space. 





Samgama: Coming together. Meeting, union, intercourse. Connection or contact with. Sexual 
union. Confluence; the confluence of two rivers or of a river and the ocean (such confluences are 
always held sacred). Conjunction of planets. Harmony. Adaptation. Point of intersection. United. 


In this yukti, the moment of orgasm is the gateway to cosmic awareness. When we come together 
in orgasm, the rivers of shakti flow into each other. 

There is a series of perceptions to enjoy and embrace along the way. First honor the shakti, the 
divine power manifesting in you and your lover. The desire for sex is a gift of the divine. Then 
honor the coming together of two shaktis—the shakti of your passion and the shakti of your lover. 
You are flowing toward each other. You yearn to gush. Then honor the sensations of orgasm, 
which flood every cell and nerve of your body, as a manifestation of the essential happiness of your 
own soul. The verse invites you to know, “This flash of joy is my essential reality.” 

Use all the skills of yoga you have developed in your daily practice to cherish each moment of 
lovemaking. When you find the meditation practice that truly suits your individual nature, it will 
enhance your ability to be present with this intensity. 

Every other sutra prepares us for lovemaking and gives the body a chance to be ready to give 
and receive love. Pranashakti flows through our senses like a river of energy and tunes them for life, 
enlightenment, and sex. Orgasm is a magnificent moment, and every nerve has to be ready, willing, 
and able to partake of the mystery. 




Lehana: The act of licking, tasting, or lapping with the tongue. 


We can bathe in the experience of lovemaking again and again, even if we are not with our lover. 
Welcome the memory of kissing, licking, lapping, touching, and being touched, and in meditation 
allow your consciousness to open up to the universe embracing you. 

Love changes us. Its touch goes deep inside and remains in our cellular memory. The delight is 
supposed to be lasting. If you have ever been in love or want to be, you can let your heart and soul 
be filled with the juiciness of this love as if it were happening right now. 

During meditation, recall the experience of making love and let it energize all your nerves. 
Sexual arousal is a form of pranashakti flowing through your body, nourishing you and 
rejuvenating your will to live. This is an important practice on the path of intimacy. We learn so 
much from love. The sense memory of any moment of love can be a gateway into a deeply 
nourishing meditation. 

Simple moments of embrace change the cells of our bodies. Your daily meditation practice 
should keep you tuned for sex, vacations, work, and play. When you think of lovemaking and savor 
the feeling, your nerves tingle. This will happen spontaneously, and it will come and go. Even a 
second of that tingle feeds life-giving prana through the nerves. You could be lying in the sun, 
walking in the wind, feeling the contact of nature on your skin, and be reminded of your lover’s 
caress. Although lovemaking memories are particularly nourishing, many kinds of memories feed 
us. Bharatsmrteh is “nourished, full.” Smr is “to remember, recollect.” Notice that within the word 
remember is member, which in Sanskrit is anga. Re-membering is itself a form of yoga—connecting, 
linking together. 

There is a joke within the word samplavah, which means “flowing together, meeting and 
swelling of waters, flood, deluge, noise, tumult (especially of battle), submersion by water, 
destruction, ruin.” One day when I was working on this text, a friend called and said, “I’m ruined. I 
have the perfect job, perfect apartment, perfect yoga class, the perfect circle of friends. My life is 
as good as can be if you are a single woman living alone at age thirty-five. But I met a man that I 
love, and now I have to throw all that away and change everything so that I can be with him.” 




Bandhava: A kinsman, relation (especially a maternal relation), friend. 


When you are meditating and think of someone, a friend or family member, savor the nature of the 
bond between you. If you love the person, there is joy in that bond. You can meditate on that 
ananda. It is a path to the soul. 

Bandhava refers to bonding, and resonates with bandha: “connection or intercourse with; 
putting together, uniting; a mode of sexual union—there are said to be sixteen, eighteen, thirty- 
six, or even eighty-four modes; constructing, building a bridge; bridging over (the sea); directing 
the mind or eyes; conceiving, cherishing, feeling; arrangement of musical sounds, composition; a 
border, framework, enclosure, receptacle; a sinew, tendon.” 

Bandha is a realm of yoga techniques that involve “containing” the vital energies or prana of 
the body. Thus, the word suggests that any attachment, any of your relationships, if approached 
with skillful awareness, is a yoga. Bandha is building a bridge over the sea, making a connection 
between two hearts. Our relationships are pathways to enlightenment. 

When we are bonded with other people, it is as if there are strings connecting our hearts to 
theirs, and these strings vibrate as they stretch. A bond of relationship is a “tendon” and also “an 
arrangement of musical sounds.” There is a music to each of our bonds. 

Bonding is an experience we all know, a very human moment. The teaching suggests we dive 
deeper into the joy of relatedness, of bonding, and cherish it with the total power of our attention. 
Take this rising bliss, this anandam udgatam, as a gift of the divine, meditate on it, and merge with it. 

Ananda is a dimension of the divine—a vast oceanic experience, an ocean of delight. Even 
though we, as souls, are incarnate, we are also in oneness with the bliss of eternal consciousness, 
sat-chi-ananda. When we see someone we love, a gateway to this divine bliss opens up. Each 
separation and reunion with a loved one reminds us of the union of body and soul. One of the 
meanings of yoga is “union,” and therefore a reunion teaches us something about yoga. 

Make a practice of meditating on this joy. Each person you love or have loved is a doorway to 
the divine. When you think of them, it is as if you are thinking a mantra, a name of God. When you 
unite with them, even by cherishing their memory in your heart, you are practicing a kind of 
bhakti love yoga. Dogs are masters of this dharana. When dogs see someone they love, they don’t 
hold back. They levitate with bliss; it rises in them, and they leap. Lately, part of my practice has 
been to meditate on the uninhibited joy dogs express. Teachers are everywhere in our 
environment and in the connections we have with all other living beings. Who are your teachers 


on the path of love? 




Rasa: Juice, best or finest part of anything, essence, liquor, elixir, potion, nectar, semen, taste, 
flavor, love, affection, desire, charm, pleasure, delight, the taste or character of a work. 


I love the word rasa. What a range of succulent meanings! You can meditate with rasa, which means 
physical tastes and also the juiciness of life in general. Rasa is a state of cherishing life in which you 
are open to the outer world and its ever-changing play, and open to your inner world and the ever- 
changing play of your subjective responses. Rasa emerges any time you are savoring your life 
experience, witnessing your own emotions as if you are watching a play or movie. 

Juice yourself up. If you are practicing meditation, develop and cherish your appreciation for 
the great tastes in life. If you are attentive, a sip of pure water is delicious. You might find yourself 
craving sunlight, water, the air you find in a forest, the smell of garlic, the taste of apricots or ripe 
fruit, chocolate with sea salt, a sip of wine or high-quality juice. These desires may be telling you of 
an element you need for your health—your physical, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing. Yoga 
refines instincts; you need to listen to them. As your body awakens, so will desires; explore them as 
appropriate for your situation. 

Meditators often practice on an empty stomach, before breakfast and dinner, when the body is 
getting ready to eat. Hunger arises, and you reject it. It rises again, and you dissolve it. Over time, 
this may result in your body becoming unenthusiastic about food and uninterested in digesting it. 
Your metabolism may slow down, and your digestion gets weak. Many practitioners experience 
diminishing vitality and health as a result. But if you cherish desires and let your body eagerly look 
forward to eating, you will tend to have better digestion and better instincts about what to eat and 
how much. 

Seek out the most yummy smells and tastes available to you. Relish them. In meditation, when 
desire for a taste or smell arises, welcome it and meditate on it. Whenever you are eating or 
drinking something delicious, give an extra minute to savoring. That extra sixty seconds can be 
quietly life changing. 





Arudha: Mounted, ascended, bestridden (as a horse). Risen. Raised up, elevated on high. 
Undertaken. Reached, brought to (often used in compounds, such as indriyarudha, meaning 
“brought under the cognizance of the senses, perceived”). The mounting, arising. Leaping upon, 


The inner motion of meditation is presented here as an enthusiastic, life-embracing activity like 
jumping on a horse—“Let’s ride!” This sutra is saying, “If you want to practice yoga, mount up! 
Jump onto your greatest joy and go.” 

Asvada is “eating with relish, also (metaphorically) tasting, flavor, enjoying.” Any sensual 
pleasure is a gateway into meditation. The practice here is to savor the banquet of the senses, 
especially music, which is a joy like nothing else in the world. Mount the joy as it arises in you, and 
ride it into oneness with the soul. 

Yoga extends the reach of our senses. When we utilize this extended reach, we fine-tune our 
abilities to metabolize prana, the energy of life. This sutra is inviting us to attend to the feast of the 
senses that is everyday life and to use the skills we practice in yoga to ascend and transcend with 
the joy. 




Svarupa: One’s own form or shape. Your own condition, character, nature. Your own peculiar 
character. Wise, learned. 


This verse begins with yatra yatra, “wherever, whithersoever.” Wherever your mind finds 
satisfaction, there is your meditation practice. Then we see the amazing word svarupa, “your own 
peculiar nature.” A reading of this verse would be, “Wherever your mind wanders, there you can 
experience the absolute bliss of your peculiar nature.” 

If you talk to people about their secret joy, that thing they love so much they live for it, there is 
an infinite range of peculiar activities. Rejuvenating old cars. Fly-fishing. Bathing naked in 
mountain streams. Training dogs. Gardening. Painting mandalas. Golf. Surfing. It doesn’t matter 
what you love. What matters is that you love it and you choose it freely. 

Svarupa is the shape of your soul. In all these practices, in everything you do in meditation, 
follow the shape of your own soul. Practice in a way that feels to you like your favorite hobby or 
indulgence—that natural way you would putter in the garden if you love gardening, wander 
around a city if you are a traveler, curry the horse if you are a horse person, play your instrument 
if you are a musician—and you are just alone, exploring. 

Para ananda svarupa is “the transcendental joy of your unique character.” This suggests that 
you get to the universal through the personal. No matter how wounded, wacky, or wonderful you 
think you are, celebrate your individuality. 


5 2 


Nidra: To fall asleep, sleep, slumber, sleep, slumber, sleepiness, sloth. The budding state of a flower. 
A mystic name of the letter bh. 


Sleep is an important part of meditation, and you should always welcome the impulse to fall into 
sleep. Take good care of yourself and tuck yourself in. 

Nidra is sometimes yoganidra: “meditation-sleep,” a state of half meditation, half sleep. 

We all fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes here and there in meditation, and it’s wonderful. 
Be prepared—have blankets and pillows at hand, so that you can luxuriate in the sleep if it 
happens. If you have been meditating for a while, you also might find yourself called to take naps 
at certain times, and many yogis find that these naps are deeper than meditation. You don’t just 
fall asleep—you fall into magic, into the arms of the Goddess. 

Meditating is a courtship. You are romancing the intrinsic divinity of life, dating pranashakti 
There comes a time when the Goddess embraces you and takes you into her realm. What is falling 
asleep? It is pure surrender. 

Your daily meditation practice tunes your nerves and cleans up the pathways of perception. 
Day by day, if you honor each impulse that arises, you attend to all the unfinished business in your 
mind and heal your nerves. Then you are ready. Because you are tuned to your body, you can feel 
the call for a nap, like a cat. And you fall into something: sometimes instead of inner darkness, it’s 
inner light. This is para deviprakasate (para, “beyond, transcendental”; Devi, the Goddess; prakasha, 
“visible, shining, manifestation, laughter”). The Universal Soul in the form of the Goddess, who is 
more ancient than time and younger than springtime, who is concerned for you, has come from 
beyond eternity to care for you, to fill you with her shining energy, and light you up with her 




Tejas: Aura, glow, ray, brilliance, radiance, light, fire, luster. Spiritual power. Ardor. Splendor. 

This is the sunbathing sutra, a meditation on tejas, radiance. Attention is invited to delight in the 
brilliance of surya, the sun. Begin with the image of surya akasha, the sun’s luminosity permeating 
all of space. After a while, you will dissolve into the light. As you come back from dissolution, 
lightly consider the thought, sva atma rupa, “this is my essence.” Don’t be surprised if you laugh in 
delight. The sutra ends with a form of the word prakasha, “splendor, luster, expansion, and 

Never do any practice unless you love it. Only meditate on the sun if you adore it. Love 
activates your instincts, the ones you need to be successful in this yukti and to protect yourself 
appropriately. Tejas has other meanings, including, “the bright appearance of the human body in 
health and beauty; fiery energy, ardor, vital power, essence; semen virile; the brain; gold.” It is not 
just the fire of the sun that is the meditation topic here; it is the life-giving, vitalizing effect of 
being outdoors in the sun, the sense of being sun-kissed, filled with essence, and a sweet, subtle 

Whenever you are meditating on the relationship of your body with an element, be aware of 
dosage: how much of this is healthy for you in this present form, and what amount is too much? 
Do not look directly at the sun, ever. The light is so intense that it can damage your eyes. So you 
can meditate on the sun in your imagination. You could also meditate on the radiance of a light 
bulb, candle, or wood fire. 




Khecara: Moving in the air, flying. A bird. Any aerial being (as a messenger of the gods). A particular 
mudra or position of the fingers. An earring or a cylinder of wood passed through the lobe of the 


Sometimes the life-force in us just wants to break out and be wildly free, as if we were flying, 
breathing flame on people, or able to put on such a scary face that everyone would leave us alone. 
Children do this as the mood strikes them, and in yoga this movement has a name— mudra, meaning 
“that which gives joy.” 

The text lists a series of mudras, both wild and peaceful poses. Strike a pose. Feel free to throw 
yourself down into the corpse pose, as carefree as a skeleton on Halloween. Make a face as if you 
were angry or absolutely astonished, eyes wide open in awe. Sometimes in meditation practice, 
such gestures will spontaneously arise and carry you. There is a sense of supreme satisfaction as 
you fly beyond your ordinary constrictions. 

Meditation is powered by our life energy, which wants to break free. And when it does, 
pranashakti is both peaceful and wild. We need to bust out some new moves. This often happens to 
people after a couple of years of sitting meditation; their bodies just get tired of sitting, and that is 
it—sitting is over. From now on, let’s dance. 

If we have come to yoga for healing, we may have needed our practice to be a cast or cage so 
that the bone in a broken wing can set. Now it is time to stretch our wings and fly again, so our 
practice needs to change. We feel an inner urge to abandon the cage of the practice that got us this 
far. This is not a failure of yoga; it is the success. 



Nirasraya: Having or offering no prop or stay. Supportless. Shelterless. Alone. Lying open. 


There is a time to take shelter in props, and there is a time to be out in the open. When you have 
been doing something in sequence, after many repetitions you may find you can glide over some 
steps very lightly and touch down on others. This is one of the implications of nirasraya. You can 
set aside or skip over the prop of your technique. 

Part of the delight of watching athletes is seeing the way they flow through their events, 
almost levitating. This same type of flow also develops in meditation —antar yoga, the inner flow of 
your technique. After you have gone through the steps of your practice many times and you know 
them by heart, go ahead and allow yourself a kind of carelessness, an easy freedom. Fly through 
the sequence and skip parts if you want. There comes a time to just lean into the practice as if you 
are skiing. At this point, you leave behind your sense of sequence and lose your addiction to 

The mind moves at the speed of thought, and you can perceive many thoughts in one second. 
Sometimes your mind will delight in doing something in a few seconds that used to take half an 
hour or all day. 

The opposite is also true: sometimes you may want to slow down a process. Human beings 
invent meditation techniques almost continuously, the very ones described in the Vijnana 
Bhairava Tantra. These come and go so quickly, in just five or ten seconds, that you may not even 
notice you’ve engaged in them. The inner teacher, the wisdom of life, has offered you a bit of 
instruction, an attitude adjustment, a moment of rejuvenation. When you recognize a sutra and 
relate to it, you have probably already practiced it spontaneously— nirasraya, “without props”— 
many times. One day you may sense the need to map out a series of steps, feel the nuances, and 
practice them individually. You may practice this way for minutes or months, until it becomes 
time to leave the technique behind and return to nirasraya. 





Vyoman: Heaven, sky, atmosphere, air, space, ether (as an element), wind or air (of the body), a 
temple sacred to the sun. The tenth astrological mansion. Preservation, welfare. 


This yukti is an appreciation of space. One way to explore space is to stand or sit and form your 
arms into a circle and become aware of enclosed space. Just notice what is there; be curious. Let 
space be itself, infinite, as you embrace it. Embrace the nothing. 

Imagine you are encircling the whole universe. What quality of awareness do you bring to this 
embrace? What texture of creativity, love, and welcoming do you want to give? 

Now shift perspective. Be the universe enclosing you with love, welcoming the birth of 
something new. 





Nipat: To fly down, settle down, descend on, alight. To rush upon, attack, assail. To fall down, upon, 
or into. To throw one’s self at a person’s feet. To fall into ruin or decay, be lost. To enter, be 
inserted, get a place. To direct (the eyes) toward. 


This is a meditation on the experience of being ravished, transfixed, and overwhelmed by 
something you see in the physical world. You see someone so magnificent that immediately you 
have the impulse to throw yourself at his feet. You see a baby crawling along, and you are 
overcome with adoration, falling to your knees beside her and making cooing sounds. 

Awe occurs spontaneously; be ready to go with it. See a marvelous work of art, the ravishing 
gorgeousness of nature. There is skill in being so open that we can be slain by beauty. We throw 
ourselves at the feet of that manifestation. The yukti here is aesthetic rapture; we transcend on the 
rasa of amazement. 




Jhva: The tongue. The tongue or tongues of agni various forms of flame. Three flames are named in 
the Rig Veda. In astrology, the twenty-eighth yoga. 


This sutra refers to a whole world of practices having to do with the tongue in its role as a doorway 
into the subtle body. We are invited to attend to the tongue as an altar that receives the food that 
fuels the fire of life. The physical tongue accepts the offerings placed on it. It cherishes the food, 
relishes it, welcomes it into the temple of the body, where it soon becomes warmth and energy. 
The subtle tongue, the tongue made of prana, receives the energy in the food and transmutes this 
directly into vitality. 

Agni a central concept in this yoga, means “fire, sacrificial fire (of three kinds, garhapatya, 
ahavaniya, and daksina), the god of fire, the fire of the stomach, digestive faculty, gastric fluid.” 

Explore your tongue in all its senses—taste, temperature, touch, and movement. The tongue 
can perceive many tastes, textures, and temperatures. 

If you enjoy drinking, pour two glasses of high-proof alcohol, such as brandy. Set one on fire 
and watch it burn. Then sip the other. Realize that food and drink really are fuel for fire. You are a 
slow-burning flame. 

In lovemaking, when you are aroused and feel like kissing someone, explore the relationship of 
your tongue and your clitoris or penis. Explore the movement of the tip of the tongue. Explore the 
connection that runs down through the madhya, the middle of your being; this connection is a 
dancing flame through your whole core. 

This meditation leads to a remarkable feeling of peace (shanti) as you accept the essential reality 
of flame. 



Ksana: Any instantaneous point of time, instant, twinkling of an eye, moment. A leisure moment, 
vacant time, leisure. A fit or suitable moment, opportunity. A festival. The center, middle. 


This is an afternoon-nap-type of practice, or shavasana, in which you lie down and give in to 
gravity so completely that it feels like you are suspended in space. At first you feel the earth, the 
floor, or your mat or bed beneath you, then that feeling dissolves, and you are simply floating. 

This sensation can happen in an instant, and it is to be cherished. There is a shift of perception 
inside this paradox. You lie down and give in to gravity, let your weight drop, and the instant you 
surrender into the weight, you become light. In the twinkling of an eye, the sensation shifts to a 
feeling of boundlessness. When the moment is right, something liberating can happen, effortlessly. 
It feels so good it must be a sin. This moment of leisure becomes an inner festival, a celebration. 




Cala: Moving, trembling, shaking, loose. 


This sutra is about dancing. Shaking your booty is a sacred activity. The yukti here is to spaciously 
embrace divya augha, the flood of divine sensations aroused by dancing. Divya is “to long for heaven; 
divine, heavenly, celestial; supernatural, wonderful, magical; charming, beautiful, agreeable; the 
divine world or anything divine.” Augha means “a flood, a stream.” 

Everyone who has danced knows that when you’re dancing, you are flooded by celestial 
sensations. Calana is also “shaking, wagging (the tail), making loose.” Rock out! What makes you 
want to wag your tail, throw off all restraint? Put on music that makes you want to move. 

Another area of exploration, which you may already know and celebrate, has to do with the 
rocking sensations of riding horses or any sport in which your pelvis is being rocked. 
Snowboarding, skiing, and certain styles of surfing involve a lot of hip swaying. The rocking 
creates undulation through your spine, waves of energy rippling everywhere, and you can ride 
these waves into the union of your body and the divine. 




Akasha: A free or open space, vacuity. The ether, sky, or atmosphere. In philosophy, the subtle and 
ethereal fluid (supposed to fill and pervade the universe and to be the peculiar vehicle of life and of 
sound). Brahma (as identical with ether). 


Lie on your back, gaze upward at the sky, and become one with the mystery. Children do this and 
it’s fun. Whether beginners or advanced, meditators need to bathe in space. There is nothing like 
it, no substitute for this type of gazing. Something of the atman, the nature of the soul, becomes 
clear. If for some reason you are stuck in your cubicle at work, you can cultivate the feeling of 
spaciousness by imagining the sky at night. Look at the imagery astronomers produce. But if you 
can, go to any outdoor space that’s available. Build up an appetite to indulge yourself in space. 

In this yukti, you dissolve into space, transcend with space, merge with it, become it. Meeting 
yourself in this way can be somewhat terrifying (bhairava is “the property of exciting terror”). At 
the same time, it is a relief to let go of the constriction of being an individual. 





Lina: Clung or pressed closely together, attached or devoted to, merged in, sticking. Lying or 
resting on, staying in, lurking, hiding. Dissolved, absorbed in, disappeared, vanished. 


There is so much teaching in this one word, if we take the definition as a teacher, we hear that on 
the path to becoming absorbed in meditation, we might cling to the object of attention, such as the 
sky (viyat). We feel devoted to it. In the next heartbeat we are resting in it, hiding in it and being safe. 
Then we disappear into it—we vanish These are subtle internal postures of attention, and each may 
arise, stay for a while, then dissolve into the next quality. 

Devoting , resting , clinging— your own sequence will be unique to you, may take only a few 
seconds, and may vary from moment to moment. On another day you might close your eyes and go 
straight to absorption— immediately you are absorbed in the infinite sky. Yet another day you 
simply feel a little bit restful. That’s it. Welcome all these nuances and let them shift and change 
into each other continually. 





Tamas: Darkness, gloom, the darkness of hell or a particular division of hell, the obscuration of the 
sun or moon in eclipses, mental darkness, ignorance, illusion, error, one of the three qualities or 
constituents of everything in creation. 


Run a loop in your mind: dreaming, deep sleep, awakening, dreaming, sleeping, awakening. Think 
of what you do in twenty-four hours, the states of consciousness you roll through. Meditate on the 
rhythm, the flow from one state to the other. Over and over, this whole wacky cycle rolls on and 
on. The yukti here is to meditate on the succession of these states of consciousness and thus 
become your true body—eternal consciousness, bhairava. 

The idea of a yoga practice is that we awaken, orient ourselves toward a greater source of 
nourishment and inspiration, and then go to work. As a gift of practice, something shines through, 
a kind of luminosity permeating the world. Here you are, flowing through day and night, exertion 
and rejuvenation. Whether you are working, resting, or sleeping, the uncreated light wants to 
shine through and dispel the gloom. 

Work is a way of engaging with the world. Work is also love and what you give to others. Your 
to-do list might feel like hell some days, but the light of consciousness wants to illuminate your 
work as well as your meditation practice. 





Krishna: Black, dark blue. Wicked, evil. The dark half of the lunar month, from full to new moon. 
The fourth or kali yuga. A crow, an avatar of Vishnu. Blackness. Iron, lead. The black part of the 
eye. The black spots in the moon. A kind of demon or spirit of darkness. 


Picture this: You are alone in a strange forest or desert at midnight, in the dark of the moon, in a 
storm, and it is pouring rain. With your eyes open, you can see nothing. You hear only the sound 
of the rain. There may be a flash flood. There is an uncomfortable pounding sense that something 
you can’t see is going to come racing out of the blackness and clobber you. The yukti here is to use 
the terribleness of darkness as a gateway into the mystery of the soul. Meditate on this terror, and 
something mysterious happens. You become one with the blackness. This yukti tells you to take 
your worst fear and merge with it. 

You may have your own equivalent of this scenario. Or perhaps the experience is purely 
internal: you awaken at two in the morning, in your own bed, filled with an eerie loneliness. When 
we face a terror, the vibrancy of it becomes part of our consciousness, and we are not the same. 

As part of preparing to translate the Bhairava Tantra, I lived outdoors on retreat in Hawaii for a 
year. For months I camped out in an area of black lava, miles from anyone, a few feet back from the 
ocean. When it rained, I would sleep in my Jeep because I had no tent. It was uncomfortable, so 
sometimes at night in the storms, I would stand outside in the warm rain in the middle of the night. 
I came to love being immersed in pitch black—black lava, black sky—and the howling wind, the 
swirling roar of the storm, and the crashing surf. 

Notice this sutra has bhairava again—the terror of facing the unknown. It is strangely liberating 
to go through the fear to the other side, which is indescribable. Beyond and inside the wildness of 
nature, there is intense friendliness. 




Prasara: Spreading or stretching out, extension. A trader’s shop. Opening (the mouth). Going 
forward, advance, progress, free course, coming forth, rising, appearing, diffusion. Range (of the 
eye). Boldness, courage. A fight, war. An iron arrow. Speed. Affectionate solicitation. In music, a 
kind of dance. 


This is a meditation on darkness. In your mind’s eye, see darkness spreading, diffusing (prasara) 
everywhere, into infinity. Embrace the blackness and become one with the body of infinite I-AM 

Darkness is a mystery, both terrifying and blissful. I tend to be somewhat afraid of this practice, 
even though it is the very first meditation I did as part of the scientific research on meditation in 
1968.1 usually feel a kind of shudder, like when jumping into a cold pool or ocean, when I meditate 
on darkness. There is a set of strange sensations until I get used to it, and then it is such a relief. 

There was a season in 1972 when, over a period of months, I sensed darkness coming from the 
back of my brain, spreading forward and threatening to engulf me. It was a creepy, background 
sensation, as if black tar was taking over my brain. This happened so slowly that I was only 
subliminally aware of it. I instinctively recoiled from it and thought I was depressed. Finally, one 
morning it got intense enough that I consciously noticed it while meditating, and I gave in. 

Once I relaxed into it, the darkness quickly spread throughout my brain, body, and the space in 
front of me. It was restful. I turned into inky blackness, and it was sort of refreshing, like slipping 
into a warm bath of pure blackness. It changed my cells and that was that. I had been clinging to 
the light—apparently, the light side of the yin-yang dynamic—and now I was letting the opposites 
dance in me in their own way. Even though I typically arise at four in the morning and do yoga and 
meditation in the darkness, loving the resonant silence, I have to return to this yukti again and 




Indry a: Fit for or belonging to or agreeable to Indra, the god of the senses; a companion of Indra. 
Power, force, the quality that belongs especially to the mighty Indra. An exhibition of power, a 
powerful act. Bodily power, power of the senses. Virile power. Semen virile. Faculty of sense, 
sense, organ of sense. The number five as a symbol of the five senses (in addition to the five organs 
of perception—eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin). 


In yoga, the senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching—are the indriyas , “the companions 
of Indra,” who is the king of the gods. The senses are delightful to the divine. The senses are the 
entourage of God, always entertaining. 

In the literature of yoga, Indra is a party animal with an insatiable appetite for soma , the 
alcoholic and psychedelic drink that is the nectar of life. If we take this metaphorically (always a 
good idea with Sanskrit), it means that the senses permeating our bodies are to be celebrated as 
divine. Yoga practices play with the senses and extend their range. T antra is “extend, stretch, 
weave together.” We use the senses to weave together flesh and spirit, this moment and eternity. 

Cherish your senses as gifts of the divine. Breathe with each sense for a few seconds. You could 
think the name of each sense and inwardly cherish it, welcome its music, then welcome its 
continual flow of information about the outer and inner world. Add the senses of movement and 
balance, essential to everyone and especially yogis. “Now I am awake to touch . . . vision . . . 
hearing . . . smell . . . taste . . . touch . . . balance . . . movement.” Over time, you will notice a 
delicious enhancement of your ability to notice your world, both inside and out. This is a simple 
practice of being grateful for every sense, and it will enrich your daily experience no end. 

When one sense is affected, they all are affected. If you close one room of the party, the guests 
congregate in the other rooms. When you close your eyes, your inner eyes open; you can become 
more aware of your skin sensations and your sense of hearing. People do this spontaneously; they 
close their eyes and sigh when receiving a massage or when listening to music. 





Jnana: Knowing, becoming acquainted with. Knowledge, the higher knowledge (derived from 
meditation on the one Universal Spirit). Knowledge about anything cognizant. Conscience. 
Engaging in. 


This is the aha sutra—a sudden glimpse beyond the ordinary. We are astonished, and in moments of 
discovery, insight, and revelation, the whole body comes alive. The eyebrows rise. The mouth 
opens, and we may gasp, “Ah!” It is the sudden sensation of being flooded with knowledge, jnana. 
That gasp of “Ah!” or “Aha!” is a natural mantra. 

If you have had this experience, then you can invoke it intentionally in meditation; you can use 
the feeling and the ah as a focus. 

There is a universe of techniques here. One loving approach is to use jna augha (pronounced 
jnaana aughah ) as a mantra. Jna is “to know, remember, recognize.” Augha is “stream, flood.” So the 
meaning of the mantra is, “streams of divine knowledge flowing through me.” 




Varna: A covering, cloak, mantle. A cover, lid. Outward appearance, exterior. Luster, beauty. Color, 
tint, dye, pigment (for painting or writing). Character, nature, quality. A letter, sound, vowel, 
syllable, word. A musical sound or note, also applied to the voice of animals. The order or 
arrangement of a song or poem. 


The yukti here is to be alert for a sound that emerges from the interface of spirit and matter, the 
infinite and the individual. It is the primordial song of soul entering the body, almost an animal 
sound. The sound emerges from the lovemaking of body and soul. 

You can’t speak this sound; you can’t think it. In meditation, when you are at the level where 
soul and body are loving each other, you may hear it. 

In moments of intense, intimate lovemaking, in the surrender and letting go, you may hear a 
sound emerge spontaneously from the throat of your beloved. This is the closest we can come to 
the self-existent mantra of creation. In meditation, welcome this profound surrender and cherish 
its sound resonating within you, whenever you come into its presence. Let your consciousness 
merge with that sound, and be touched by the primal creative power of life. 






Anavrta: Uncovered, undressed. Unenclosed, open. Unlimited, free. 


The yukti here is meditating on the body as having the form of unlimited space stretching in all 
directions. You are naked before infinity, unlimited and free. As you fall into freedom, you realize 
your true body is chib, shakti— the divine energy and power manifesting as your individual 

You can enter the yukti playfully and imaginatively: “This body is made out of heaven, out of 
the infinite sky stretching away in all directions.” 

Along with the freedom resulting from this practice, there is a sense of being undressed. You 
know you are in the midst of this practice if suddenly, even with all your clothes on, you feel 
naked. Some people feel this way naturally, and it’s a problem for them. If you feel too transparent, 
invent a series of hand motions—like what you see orchestra conductors doing. Make up your own 
motions of activating a force field around your body, a subtle boundary made out of vibrating 
space. With your hands, paint a beautiful sphere of shimmering energy around you at a 
comfortable distance. Do a few minutes of motion in this way, and then go for a walk and notice 
how you feel. 




Vibhid: To split or break in two, to break in pieces, to cleave asunder, to cause to split, to divide, to 
separate, to open, to pierce, to sting, to loosen, to untie, to break, to infringe, to violate, to scatter, 
to disperse, to dispel, to destroy, to alter, to change (the mind). To be split or broken, to be burst 
asunder, to be changed or altered. To alienate, to estrange. 


Any moment of wounding immediately produces a healing response from life. Whenever you 
experience pain or violation in any form, use the terror as a gateway. Stop and feel the intensity. 
Let it wake you up. Unite with pure, shining universal consciousness, and begin to heal. 

We are many-bodied beings, with bodies corporeal, emotional, mental, and celestial. We have a 
physical body, anna maya kosha. We have an emotional body—to coin a phrase, vibhava maya kosha, 
or “body of emotional drama.” Mano maya kosha is the mental body, and ananda maya kosha is the 
body of bliss. When we get injured on one level, it can throw us through a door in space-time into 
the next dimension. Meditation helps us to develop the ability to quickly, almost instantaneously, 
relax into a pain sensation. 

The verse also uses the word suci “The sharp point or tip of anything or any pointed object. A 
kind of military array in which the sharpest, most active soldiers are placed in front. An index, 
table of contents to a book. In astronomy, the earth’s disc in computing eclipses (or the corrected 
diameter of the earth). Gesticulation, dramatic action. A kind of sex (coitus).” 

When the sharp point of pain pierces us, a table of contents to our suffering gets written in our 
bodies. As we heal, the healing process encodes wisdom into our cells and writes a song of healing 
into our flesh. When our reality gets punctured, this spontaneous mantra rises in us: ouuuuch It’s 
a particle of OM, calling out to life: “Help me, I’m hurt here.” When we are hurt, physically or 
emotionally, we can call out to the forces of life. OM is the primal song of creation joyously 
expanding, and ouch is the beginning of reconnecting with the joy. 





Citta: Noticed. Aimed at, longed for. Appeared, visible. Attending, observing. Thinking, reflecting, 
imagining, thought. Intention, aim, wish. The heart, mind. Memory. Intelligence, reason. In 
astrology, the ninth mansion. 


In meditation, gently consider this: 

There is no mind. 

There is no intellect. 

There is no ego. 

I am pure consciousness. 

I am pure Being. 

Sometimes meditating on these words just once is liberating. Let the light of this passage shine 
inside for a day, then go out and live. Do not force the recognition of this truth; let it come to you 

This sutra is part of a sequence of yuktis about being startled out of your ordinary perception 
and opened to the Beyond. 




Maya: Measuring. Creating illusions. Art, wisdom, extraordinary or supernatural power (only in 
the earlier language). Illusion, unreality, deception, fraud, trick, sorcery, witchcraft, magic. An 
unreal or illusory image, phantom, apparition. Duplicity. Compassion, sympathy. The name of the 
mother of Gautama Buddha. An alternate name of Lakshmi. 


This is a declaration of independence meditation: “Let the world turn; let the illusions spin. Let 
everyone else believe the scripts they are playing out. Party on, all you people.” 

Maya refers to the gorgeousness of the universe and all art, poetry, and magic. Maya is the 
power of a performer to embody a character and enchant us, the power of a storyteller to weave 
the threads of the characters and dialogues together into an absorbing tale. 

Maya is beguiling. The universe is supposed to be so beautiful that we are endlessly enchanted 
and drawn into scenario after scenario. We are supposed to fall in and forget everything else for 
two hours, as we would with any good movie. That’s why we buy a ticket. Maya is also vimohin 
—“perplexing, bewildering.” Somehow we love this aspect of the drama. 

This being Sanskrit, there are always jokes embedded in the statement. In the context of all the 
other sutras, this one is saying, “You all can believe in the reality of maya, but I am standing here 
on the firm ground of absolutely nothing. I will just stand here in midair for a while and enjoy the 




Iccha: Wish, desire, inclination. In math, a question or problem. In grammar, the desiderative form. 

This yukti is something you can do anytime you perceive the rise of a desire: spot the initial flash 
or sparkle of the desire as it begins to rise. Usually this requires great attentiveness, so at first you 
may only notice it during clear meditations. 

You have a choice: you can absorb the energy of the desire and dissolve it, you can modify it, or 
you can use the desire itself as a means of transcendence, following it back into the source of all 

The English word desire is said to be from the Latin de sidere, “from the stars.” Desire is from the 
heavens, and to follow your desire is to follow your star. You have a dozen or more desire-stars to 
follow, your own constellation. These include friendship, exercise, food, sex, play, and power. 
Desires often come as a sequence—you want to eat good food, in a great place, while feeling love 
and laughing with your friends. 

The technique here is to savor the energy of desire and use it as you would a mantra, a focus for 
meditation. Desires flow, like an electric current; let that flow of juice nurture and energize you. 
Imbibe the sparkle, dissolve, transcend with that desire, and be fulfilled. 




Bhava: Becoming, being, existing, turning or transition into. State, condition, true condition, 
reality, manner of being, temperament, any state of mind or body, way of thinking or feeling, 
sentiment, intention, love, affection, attachment. The seat of the feelings or affections, heart, soul, 
mind. Wanton sport, dalliance. 


If we allow the definition of bhava to teach us, we hear an unending stream of inspiration: “As you 
engage with any of these practices, be loving and affectionate toward who you are. The intention is 
to turn into yourself, become yourself. As you connect with your heart and soul, let there be 
wanton sport and dalliance—play, fun and games, friskiness, recreation, and relaxation.” 

The future case of bhava is bhavet, which is used thirty times in the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, 
always as the last word of a verse, representing a possibility, a hoped-for state, a potential: “It 
could become.” Becoming is mysterious. 

Bhava, in turn, is based on bhu: “To become, be, arise, come into being, exist, be found, live, 
stay, abide, happen, occur. To cherish, foster, animate, enliven, refresh, encourage, promote, 
further. To addict or devote oneself to, practice. To manifest, exhibit, show. Becoming, being, 
existing, springing, arising. The place of being, space, world, or universe. The earth, ground. Soil. 
Floor. Pavement. A spot or piece of ground.” 

If we listen to the teaching of bhu, we hear: “Meditate in a way that fosters and enlivens you. Let 
your practice encourage you to become who you really are. Investigate your addictions; find out 
what secret is hidden there—what you are really craving—and convert it to a practice. Become 
devoted to your practice. Cherish your relationship with this spot of ground, the floor, the soil, the 
pavement, this world, space and the universe.” 

There is so much meaning in bhava, bhavet, and bhu; each word in each definition suggests a 
skill, a vijnana (understanding, recognizing, intelligence, skill, proficiency, art). The greatest skill 
may be to cherish your own being as an expression of the mystery of being and becoming and your 
place in the divine play. 





Artha: Aim, purpose. Cause, motive, reason. Advantage, use, utility. Generally named with kama 
and dharma, used in wishing well to another. Thing, object (said of the membrum virile). Object of 
the senses. Substance, wealth, property, opulence, money. In astrology, name of the second 
mansion, the mansion of wealth. 


The current of desire flowing through us at all times is acknowledged in the word artha. 

In the background of yoga philosophy is a life-embracing concept, the four purusharthas or 
aims of human life: 

Kama— sensual pleasure; also desire, longing, sexual love 
Artha— wealth 
Dharma— duty 

Moksha— emancipation, liberation; release from worldly existence; setting free 

Yoga practice is to serve all of the purusharthas, helping us to function better in order to achieve all 
our desires and fulfill our obligations. When you are flowing through all the purusharthas in your 
own way, there is the feeling of living the life you were designed for. 




Niradhara: Without receptacle or support. 


When your head becomes cluttered with knowledge, you need a housecleaning. Anything that is 
not supported by your own direct living experience, toss it out. Maybe it is time to just throw out 
everything you used to think you know, and start fresh. 

There is always something daunting and unsettling when your previous model of reality falls 
apart. At the same time, the freedom is exhilarating, and the spaciousness makes room for 
something new. 




Tanmaya: Made up of that, absorbed in or identical with that. 


We all arise from the same source, whatever that is. The laws of nature are identical in my body 
and those bodies over there. 

Humans have an instinct to commune with the universe and with all the other creatures in 
creation. In this meditation, you follow that instinct and develop a kind of kinship with everything 
that is in a body—be it a bug, a person, and even a planet. If something has a body, it is a relative of 

You can explore this yukti as a walking meditation. Each time you see any living being—a bird 
flying by, an ant on the ground, a tree, another human being—consider the mantra, “The same 
consciousness pervades my body and every body.” Look at photos of the earth, the other planets, 
the stars, and do the same. 

This is one of those little perceptions that you might touch on but think is insignificant. Or you 
might assume such perceptions belong only to advanced yogis. But these experiences can happen 
to anyone and are a gift of grace. 




Kama: Wish, desire, longing, love, affection. Object of desire, love, or pleasure. Enjoyment. Sexual 
love or sensuality. Love or desire personified, the god of love. A stake in gambling. A species of 
mango tree. A kind of temple. 


Love is a temple. Whenever you enter here, bring your ready wit to witness the play of the 
elements and savor the light show. 

Cherish the passions that electrify you while you are meditating. Welcome kama in all its forms 
—desire, lust, longing, adoration, and the sense of taking a risk, of gambling with your life. What 
arises when there is an obstacle to love? Anger, krodha —we are aflame with anger, the desire to 
burn through all obstacles. We get perplexed, lobha. And then we swoon, moha. Then perhaps we 
start laughing, mada (hilarity, rapture). Uh-oh, matsarya, envy and jealousy! Each of the passions 
sends signals through your whole body and makes your chakras spin with a different hum. Your 
body may flow through a sequence of passions every few seconds while you are meditating. This is 

If you have an interesting daily life, part of your meditation time will be spent reviewing and 
replaying any emotions that got stuck in your chakras or were not finished. Attention always 
wants to finish what was unfinished. This is why it is so beneficial to welcome all energies that arise 
in meditation. All those thoughts, sensations, and emotions are just information. You are feeling 
them because awareness is sorting through the various forms of prana. 

The average adult reads text at 250 to 300 words a minute, or four or five words per second. We 
can understand a friend chatting away at several words per second, and we can recognize facial 
expressions in a flash. We can read our own emotions that quickly, as the energies play through 
our nerves and senses. When you witness the flow of your passions during meditation, your 
practice will be as riveting as your favorite soap operas, reality TV, novels, and movies, because 
your practice is your adventure, your drama, your divine play of life. 





Indrajala: The net of Indra. A weapon employed by Arjuna. Sham, illusion, delusion, magic, sorcery. 
To juggle. The art of magic. 


This whole universe is magic, a vast arena of illusions put on for your entertainment. Matter and 
light are fountaining out of nothing. Whirling flames fill the sky. It is all a kind of juggling. The 
world we see is art, the most wonderful creation; creativity is overflowing everywhere. Everything 
is moving, revolving—every particle of existence is on the potter’s wheel. When we meditate on 
this knowledge, joy arises spontaneously. 

Look up at the sky. Then look at astronomy images of the same stars. Modern science, 
particularly physics, astronomy, and astrophysics, has outdone stage magicians in revealing the 
universe as a magic show. Huge telescopes are orbiting the earth, gathering light from thousands, 
millions, and billions of light-years away. The images are beautiful beyond description and reveal 
outer space to be a great work of art. 

Awaken to your inner world as magic. Our senses receive the energies streaming in from the 
world and arrange them onto the canvas of our perception. As you meditate, consider all thoughts, 
emotions, and sensuous impressions as your personal form of magic show. 




Duhkha: Uneasy, uncomfortable, unpleasant, difficult. Uneasiness, pain, sorrow, trouble. 


During meditation your mind will be drawn toward whatever pain and sorrow is going on in your 
body and your life. In any given moment you might feel an ache, which then turns into an irritated 
sensation, a pang, sting, or soreness. How do we deal with our world of trouble? There are 
thousands of different strategies for handling uncomfortable sensations, but the simplest one is to 
allow your attention to be called to the pain and give it space. 

The word duhkha is literally “bad space” (dux is “bad or difficult,” and kha is “space”). Kha is also 
an axle hole, so duhkha is the image of a wheel out of balance, or rough going. (Su is the opposite of 
dur, “good,” so sukha is “good space,” or the wheel that is rolling swiftly and easily.) 

Kha suggests that we get interested in space itself and from there learn about how to balance 
the wheels of life. In yoga there is the concept that life energies spin like wheels; chakra means 
“wheel, a potter’s wheel, a whirlpool.” Your chakras are wheels of energy in motion, each one 
representing an area of instinct and expression. During meditation you will feel, with a kind of 
microscopic perception, tiny ways they are out of balance. 

Our chakras can hurt from giving too much and not receiving enough, and also from receiving 
too much and not giving enough. We ache to give the best in us, and we long to be in a flow with 
our outer and inner world, if you pay attention to an ache, it will try its best to teach you 
everything, speaking its language of sensation. The quality of attention required to hear it is 
spacious embracing and tenderness. 

If you have a full life—a lover, a job, kids, pets, and projects—you will feel many kinds of pain 
during meditation. This pain is not to be avoided. It’s a signal, not noise. You are a craftswoman or 
craftsman, tending to your potter’s wheel. What feels like pain may be feedback that your work-in- 
progress is out of balance. The potter puts her hand just so, and balance is restored. 




Manas: Mind (in its widest sense as applied to all the mental powers), intellect, intelligence, 
understanding, perception, sense, conscience, will. The internal organ or antah-karana of 
perception and cognition, the faculty or instrument through which thoughts enter or by which 
objects of sense affect the soul. Sometimes joined with hrd or hrdaya, the heart. The spirit or 
spiritual principle, the breath or living soul that escapes from the body at death. Thought, 
imagination, excogitation, invention, reflection, opinion, intention, inclination, affection, desire, 
mood, temper, spirit. 


Your mind is not what you think. It is vast and a source of awe. If you get interested in manas, the 
yogic concept of “mind,” give yourself a chance to delight in how rich the word truly is. 

As a meditation, let your attention rest on each word of the definition for one breath: mind, 
intellect, intelligence, understanding, perception, sense, conscience, will, imagination, invention, 
opinion, intention, affection, desire, mood, temper, heart, spirit, breath, living soul. 




Ghata: Intently occupied or busy with. Ajar, pitcher, jug, large earthen water jar, watering pot. A 
peculiar form of a temple. An elephant’s frontal sinus. A border. Suspending the breath as a 
religious exercise. 


Ghata has a series of jokes in its definition, suggesting that jars are busy and maybe even practicing 
their own form of pranayama. The yukti here is playful and childlike. Take something simple and 
ordinary, such as a watering pot or pitcher, and imagine that it has a personality. Imbue it with 
knowledge (vijnana) and desire (tcha). Maybe the pitcher even remembers the earth it was formed 
from and knows a thing or two about transformation. 

Animated movies are created by people who have this kind of whimsical perception. 
Cartoonists think that their bicycle gets cold and lonely if they leave it on the porch at night. 
Notice in yourself whenever you do this in your own world. Do you talk to your plants or your car? 
A computer is a kind of jar, a container for billions of tiny bits; do you think that your computer 
has its own personality? This is animism, the sense that everything is alive and adorable. 

When we look at the world in this way, it is as if we receive a transmission of secret knowledge 
from each little object in the world. 




Sambandha: Binding or joining together. Close connection, union, or association. Conjunction, 
inherence, connection with or relation to. Personal connection (by marriage), relationship, 
fellowship, friendship, intimacy with. A friend, ally. A collection, volume, book. Prosperity, 
success. Fitness, propriety. 


To the extent that your heart is open, in meditation you will find yourself tending to the texture of 
each relationship in your life. You will feel your heartstrings stretching and may even hear them 
vibrating. On the path of love, we use yoga to prepare ourselves to be alert and awake to this 
magnificent mystery—that there are other people in the world and we love them. Technically 
speaking, we enter cosmic consciousness by meditating on the texture of bonding, sambandha. 

We all have many relationships—with friends, family, coworkers, teammates, lovers. Each 
requires its own precise way of holding, its own rules for what an embrace is. Each bond, each 
connection, each relationship in our life requires the best we can bring, and each moment of 
contact is surprising. 

Every kind of relationship is a kind of embrace, whether you are physically touching or holding 
someone in your heart. Each person you meet says, “Show me some love,” offering you an 
opportunity to reveal the love inside you. The feeling is exquisite, with its own texture and magic. 
You create when you relate. When you listen to someone and really see them, more is going on 
than you may know—a sacred, powerful exchange between “you” and the “other.” 





Svasarira: One’s own body or person. 


Compassion is a natural human emotion: com, “together,” and pati “to suffer.” When we see our 
friend hurt her hand, we feel the injury and say, “Ouch!” In this meditation, you take your natural 
empathy and multiply it with the power of sustained attention. 

A lifetime of practices is here. One gateway in is to marvel at individuality, the way each of us, 
with our own svasarira, is an expression of the All, and yet so utterly unique. 

Awareness of the fragility of life intensifies this appreciation. Sarira means “support or 
supporter, that which is easily destroyed or dissolved, the body, bodily frame, solid parts of the 
body (the bones), any solid body, one’s body, one’s own person, bodily strength” and suggests that 
even the solid parts of the body are easily destroyed. So cherish this temporary embodiment, for 
soon enough we will all be gone and onto our next adventure, if there is one. Do not abandon your 
body before it is time. Embrace your body and use it to extend awareness into the mystery of 



Vkalpa: Alternation, alternative, option. Variation, combination, variety, diversity, manifoldness. 
Contrivance, art. Difference of perception, distinction, indecision, irresolution, doubt, hesitation. 
Admission, statement. False notion, fancy, imagination. Calculation, mental occupation, thinking. 
Antithesis of opposites. 


This is a wild technique! Let your mind wander anywhere it will, but don’t let it rest when it tries to 
stop. Keep it moving. In this way, you do not allow all your mental occupations and 
preoccupations, vkalpas, a chance to spin their hypnotic web. Whenever your mind goes to a pair 
of opposites, “I like this and I don’t like that,” don’t give any respect to the distinction. Move on 
before the opinion even has a chance to shape itself. When you deny your mind anything to hang 
onto, there is an opportunity to wake up to the true nature of mind, which is beyond all its 
creations and contrivances. 




Vyapaka: Pervading, diffusive, comprehensive, omnipresent, widely spreading or extending, 
spreading everywhere. In law, comprehending all the points of an argument, pervading the whole 


In this meditation, first you attend to the vastness of infinity, then you attend to your own “I-am- 
ness” as part of and one with infinity. Release your awareness to refresh itself in the vastness of the 
universe, then consider the mystery of your own existence as an inseparable part of everything. 

For some, this is a spontaneous realization. It is also a prayer and a set of stunning statements 
for meditation. Here are some phrases you might want to explore: 

Present everywhere is knowledge of the universal spirit. 

Pervading everything is the power of spirit. 

Comprehending all is the supreme consciousness. 

The Sanskrit here is so beautiful. Whisper this mantra, if you feel attracted to it, and rest in the 
delight of freedom: Sarvajnah Sarva kartaa. VyaapakahParamishvarah 

Sarva is “every, everything, all together, in all parts, everywhere.” Jna is “knowing, familiar 
with, intelligent.” Sarva karta is “the maker of all.” Vyapakah is “omnipresent.” Paramishvara is “far, 
distant, remote in space, beyond, extreme, ancient, past, future, next, name of the Supreme or 
Absolute Being, the Universal Soul.” 




Visva: All, every, every one. Whole, entire, universal. All-pervading or all-containing, omnipresent. 
The faculty that perceives individuality. 


At some point in a love relationship, you may find it appropriate to say, “You are mine, and I am 
yours.” Here is a wild thought: Creation is your primary relationship. In this sutra, you are invited 
to talk to your Beloved, the universe, in an intimate and tender way: “I am yours, and you are 
mine. I am at one with you.” 

Visva is the faculty of perceiving individuality, so you are invited to meditate on the 
relationship of individuality and infinity. Your mantra here is the texture of that relationship: 

I am at home in the rivers and tides and all currents of Creation. 

I am at one with Bhairava, the consciousness that permeates everywhere. 

Everything everywhere is singing, “I AM—love me.” 

You could use lines such as this as a prayer of the heart. 

If you are more of a scientist than a lover, you can stay in wonder and use the mystery of 
individuality as the focus. The fact that anything exists at all is still a great mystery. No one knows 
why the Big Bang occurred. 





Kshobha: Shaking, trembling, agitation, disturbance, tossing, emotion. In drama, an emotion that is 
the cause of harsh speeches or reproaches. A strong current of water. 


The technique here is to work yourself to the point of exhaustion, then throw yourself down to the 
ground. Surrender to gravity. Meditate on the trembling of fatigue and be born again. The mantra 
and the gateway is kshobha shakti 

There is a yoga of tiredness, thank God. And we are all good at it. Everyone I know is running 
themselves ragged. Being exhausted by honest work is good preparation for the samadhi of 
rejuvenation. One of the meanings of tantra is “extending ourselves, stretching our capacity for 
attention and exertion.” There is a sweet science to wearing ourselves out just the right amount. 
This sutra focuses on the practice of wearing yourself out physically, and then, with the 
attentiveness of a yogi, entering shaking exhaustion and finding therein a gateway into shakti, the 
vibratory nature of the life-force. 

Kshobha is a “strong current of water,” and there is a current of OM inside the trembling. We all 
know the magic that happens when we lie down and surrender to fatigue: it is bliss, and you earned 
it. In this yukti, use the power of your yoga-enhanced attention to meditate on kshobha shakti and 
enter bliss. 




Asakta: Unable, incompetent, powerless. This is the opposite of shakti, which is “power, powerful, 


Powerlessness is a gateway. There are days when reality unravels before your eyes. You are 
disrupted, torn down, stripped of what you believe. Your foundation is shaken. When this 
happens, enter the powerlessness and use it as a focus for meditation. 

Anytime you feel incompetent and ignorant, let your mind dissolve into that unknowing 
helplessness. You are already in the disturbance, so you may as well go all the way in with full 
attention. You now realize you know nothing, so become curious and melt into wonder. The forms 
of power you have known are gone. Now you can rebuild and learn entirely new ways of dancing 
with shakti. 

Meditators know that when they are relaxed and at ease, the memory of painful times comes to 
awareness to be healed. Welcome these shocking and embarrassing memories when they come 
because they are teachers. If you learn from your own history, you don’t need to repeat it. 

Note: The phrase “unmind your mind,” used in the sutra, comes from Lakshman Joo, one of the 
great teachers of this text, a master from Kashmir who wrote many books on Shaivism. 




Sampradaya: Tradition, sect, doctrine transmitted from one teacher to another. 


Transmissions of wisdom can come quite suddenly. You might be out walking, notice a dog 
glancing at you, and see fifty thousand years of love and companionship in a second. You might 
witness the birth of a child, and you start seeing not just that particular baby being born, but also 
all beings everywhere being born. Standing alone at night in the wilderness, under the star field, 
you might see not just that particular night sky, but also beyond—stars emerging, planets 
coalescing. You might look at one particular thing, and suddenly the soul is detached from matter; 
the specific form you are seeing dissolves, and somehow you are seeing through that form into 
eternity. In these moments, you receive the transmission, and you feel a sense of inner freedom 
and happiness. We can receive these transmissions anywhere, at any time. 

Sit in open spaces, with your eyes open, gazing. Receive light, color, movement, shapes, as if 
you were newly born to this world. 




Sanatana: Eternal, perpetual, permanent, everlasting, ancient, primeval. 


There is a song, an eternal hum, permeating all of creation. Your body is part of the universe, so it 
is vibrating also. At certain times in yoga practice, sports, and intense moments of living, you may 
become attuned to the hum of creation and be able to meditate on the sound of your own life-force 
resonating in the body. 

The senses are designed to notice changes, not something that is steady. We don’t hear what is 
always there. So here is a trick, a yukti: Close your ears, with your fingers or earplugs. Introduce 
some contraction into the lower dvaras or doors of the body, the muscles around the perineum, 
anus, and urinary passage. If you know mula bandha or ashwini mudra, this is a time to practice 
them. Explore what happens when you introduce pulsation—rhythmic contracting and releasing. 
Singers use techniques such as this to attune to their own note and amplify the resonance of their 

Now simply listen. Be open to whatever you are hearing. Let the vibration of your own life- 
force teach you about itself. There may be a quiet sound, like a stream flowing—the current of life. 
You might sense it as silence, as radiance, as a vibration that is not a sound, but just a feeling or a 
hum. Welcome the unexpected song. The primordial chord that began resonating before you were 
born, sanatana, sustains you continually and is always here. This is home. You already know this 
sound; simply return to rest in the Unstuck Chord. 

You may not need to actually plug your ears each time. Your attention may go inside naturally 
as soon as you invite the internal sound. 

This practice can happen spontaneously in lovemaking. As the charge of energy builds and 
builds, the muscles at the base of the pelvis contract rhythmically, and you may find yourself in 
the palace of the Creator, listening to the hum of life. Again we see how in yoga we cheerfully 
accept every part of the body, every nerve center, and every tube or opening in the body as 
invaluable for enlightenment. 




Citta: Noticed, aimed at, longed for, appeared, visible, attending, observing, thinking, reflecting, 
imagining, thought, intention, wish, aim, the heart, mind, memory, intelligence, reason. In 
astrology, the ninth mansion. Laya: The act of clinging to, to become attached to someone, to 
disappear, be dissolved or absorbed. Lying down. Melting, dissolution. Rest, repose. Sport, 
diversion, merriness. Delight in anything. An embrace. The union of song, dance, and instrumental 
music. A pause. A swoon. 


In meditation, we court the experience of mind dissolving into nothingness. It’s restful, and when 
we come back to ourselves, it’s an embrace, a party, the union of song, dance, and instrumental 
music—a Bollywood musical! 

Dissolving can be intense and scary. Adventures in the outer world can prepare us for the 
swoon of cittalaya. Looking into depths, such as wells and canyons, can give us a chance to practice 
relaxing into the fear of falling. Roller coaster rides are intense and exhilarating. In some sports, 
you give in to the drop. In snowboarding, skiing, surfing, base jumping, and parachuting, you fall 
into the gravity well and steer. 

Outdoor explorers and athletes encounter meditative states in the course of their daring 
adventures. They glow as if they were on a meditation retreat, but they can’t tell you why. They 
are encountering cittalaya in an informal way. It happens so instantaneously that they wouldn’t be 
so bold as to say they are meditating, but their minds are dissolved in delight. 

If you are fortunate, you have come across some phenomenon that makes you feel as if the 
ground beneath your feet were opening up—a moment of intense love, a great musical or 
theatrical performance, the divine streaming through someone, a magnificent act. You are 
encountering something so brilliant that all your thoughts fall away. 





Avastha: To go down into, to reach down to; to go away from; to take one’s stand; to stay, abide, 
stop at any place; to abide in a state or condition; to remain or continue (doing anything). To be 
found, exist, be present. To fall to, fall into the possession of. To enter, be absorbed in. To 
penetrate, as sound. To be settled or fixed or chosen. To cause to stand or stop (as a carriage or an 
army). Appearance (in a court of justice). Stability, consistence. State, condition, situation (five are 
distinguished in dramas). The female organs of generation. 


This is a God-consciousness technique. People often think of meditation as stilling the mind and 
stopping the flow of thought. This sutra invites you to consider the opposite. 

Avastha, reach down into your deepest being. Take a stand in divine consciousness. See the 
whole world from inside this state. Perceive everything as the functioning of the divine, the 
Mysterious All-Pervading One. If you don’t like religious terminology, you can use the Mystery of 
Whatever Set the Laws of Nature in Motion. 

The sutra begins with yatrayatra, “wherever your mind wanders, in the outside objective world 
or your inner secret world,” and tatra tatra, “there is the gracious, friendly, benevolent universal 
consciousness.” The skill here is to find a way to rest in the knowledge that “wherever your mind 
moves, you are moving with the One Infinite Life.” 

Minds wander—that’s what they do. Hearts are always looking for love. The heart, by design, 
longs to be in the rhythm of giving and receiving. Life is flow and motion. Both mind and heart 
want to connect with the essence of life, and yoga means “connection.” Attention is dynamic by 
nature, always on a quest. In this practice, the yoga is in the wandering and searching. We are 
called to honor all this questing as yatra, a pilgrimage. 





Bharita: Nourished, full. 


We need food of many kinds. There is the food we eat with our mouths. There is also food for 
thought, food for the soul, and nourishment for our hungry hearts. There is something nourishing 
about good music—it is a kind of food. And there is a nourishing quality to simple sensuality, like 
walking in nature, with the sun shining on your skin and the wind ticking the hairs on your arms. 
Certain people are nourishing to be around. 

We are invited here to let our meditation practice be nourishing in all these ways. 

The technique is to receive all sensuous perceptions as a gift of the cosmic intelligence that is 
everywhere. In meditation, accept everything coming in through your channels of perception as 
being an emanation from infinity, and let your soul be suffused with nourishing fullness. 

In meditation, pay attention to your senses and follow each one from the level on which you 
receive it through the channels of sensuous delight, into the soul. Bharita, the sense of being 
nourished, is accessible to you though every sensual perception. All of your senses are pathways 
for the divine nature of life to talk to you, sing to you, touch you, feed you, delight you, entertain 

Start from wherever you are, and as the soul, welcome each and every sight, sound, touch, 
smell, and taste as a manifestation of that which is everywhere, the All-Pervading Lord. This 
practice may take many years, as you learn to transcend through smell, taste, touch, vision, and 
hearing, and other senses, such as balance and motion. 




Kutuhala: Curiosity, interest in any extra-ordinary matter. Inclination, desire for. Eagerness, 
impetuosity. What excites curiosity. Anything interesting, fun. Surprising, wonderful. Excellent, 


This is the “there are no atheists in foxholes” sutra. The images are intense: when fleeing from 
battle, running so fast that your brain melts; when seized by terror, dread, dismay, or burning 
heartache; when totally confused; when hiding from danger in a hole in the ground, a forest, or a 
cave; when keeping a terrifying secret; when starving, ravenously hungry. You can wake up to the 
Great Spirit in the midst of any of these shocking experiences—which are about as unmeditative 
and unyogic as you can imagine. The throbbing intensity of your need carries you across the 
invisible threshold into the presence of the One Self-Existent Spirit. 

Thankfully, you can wake up in the wonderful, to kutuhala—“eagerness, impetuosity; anything 
fun and surprising.” The “extraordinary matter” might be a surprising reversal that gives an 
underdog sports team the win. A roar of enthusiasm goes up from eighty thousand voices. You can 
even wake up with a sudden sneeze— kshut! 

Meditation is surprising. There is no predicting what you will experience from one moment to 
the next, and this is a good thing. You’d think that if you have a busy life, your mind will be noisy 
during meditation, and if you have a year off, an extended vacation, your mind will be quiet. But it 
does not work out that way. Sometimes the exhaustion of raising kids, running a business, having 
a love life, makes you so perfectly tired that meditation is just bliss. And if you took a year off to sit 
on a hill, your brain might be busy day and night processing your past experiences. There is just 
no telling. All you can do is prepare your body for meditation and then accept what arises. And the 
best preparation for meditation is to live your authentic life, do your work, follow your passions, 
explore who you are, and give everything you can give to each moment. 

If you have survived traumatic experiences, you will have flashbacks during meditation. When 
these flashes of memory occur, welcome them. They will come anyway, and if you set the table, 
you take charge of the interaction. Each time you access terror or dread, you have the opportunity 
to soothe it a bit and massage some of that fear out of your system. You may need to learn a variety 
of meditation practices, such as those described in this text, to create enough inner safety to meet 
yourself on the level of terror and trauma. 

It is a great challenge to develop life-affirming experiences that are as incandescently powerful 


as the traumatic ones. This sutra reminds you, “You were witness to something shocking, and you 




Smara: Remembering, recollecting. Memory, remembrance. Recollection. A loving recollection 
love, especially sexual love. Kama-deva, the god of love. 


This is the time-travel sutra. During meditation, a memory may grab you and carry you away. One 
moment you are here and the next you are there, in that time and place, seeing and feeling what 
you saw and felt then. By the mystery of memory, your here has been teleported to there. 

You might be remembering a wonderful lover or longing for a land that was once home. 
Perhaps you are thinking of noble actions you have witnessed. You might find yourself recalling 
meetings with inspiring people, fantastic conversations, or moments of shaktipat, when you 
received a transmission of something great. If you met Jesus, you are supposed to remember this 
communion forever and eternally be in its embrace. 

Technically speaking, you are using a cherished memory, smara, as a meditation object, in the 
same way you would breath, a mantra, or the chakras. As your mind and heart engage with that 
memory, you enter heightened awareness. You savor the rasa —the deliciousness and aesthetic 
relish—of a specific moment. Intense positive emotions—inspiration, gratitude, pride in 
accomplishment—are worthy of being cultivated in this way. 

An odd twist in this particular memory technique is that you allow self-abandonment. Tyaj is 
“abandon, leave a place,” and tyajet svasaririam is “abandoning your body.” When we are really in 
love, there can be a sense of hanging suspended. We love the other person so much that love 
elevates us to the point that we don’t really care about our body. Artists, musicians, dancers, and 
mothers can be this way about their bodies. If it is safe, go ahead and let yourself be carried away 
like this in meditation. Leave your present body behind. Leave your mind behind. Just be there in 
that time and space, reliving and recollecting. Here is a mystery: after a while, you may find you 
are floating free between worlds, flooded by divine consciousness. 




Shunyalaya: An empty or deserted house—“abode of the void.” 


Attention has rhythms and cycles. We focus on our tasks for a while, perhaps a couple of hours; we 
are on a roll. Then at some point, we realize we have been absent or daydreaming. One of the 
meanings of shunya is “absentminded.” You can utilize your naturally occurring absentminded 
states as a meditation. 

As with many of the yuktis, this meditation may occur spontaneously or it may be cultivated. 
Vinyasya here means simply “to be put or placed upon.” Place your attention somewhere—just 
gaze at something. Then gradually, softly, allow your attention to turn within. This is something 
attention does by itself; you will be completely focused on something, and then without noticing it, 
your attention dissolves. You probably think you have spaced out, and you are right. This 
spaciousness is agateway. 

When you come across someone who is absorbed in this way, don’t interrupt them. Stand 
twenty feet away or so and let them finish their reverie. After a while—usually not more than 
twenty minutes—they will notice you. 

If you have a healthy daily meditation practice, you will space out much less during the day, 
because you are giving your attention time and space to refresh itself in spaciousness. The laya of 
shunyalaya is “delightful, refreshing.” You had a vacation, and now you are back. 

If meditation is making you spaced out, then modify your practice. Do more physical activity, 
meditate for a shorter period, engage your passions, and make sure you are well nourished. Find a 
sport you love that requires you to pay close attention and keep your eye on the ball. It takes many 
years to integrate shunyalaya. 

A certain amount of meditation-induced drunkenness is normal. When you discover that 
everything is made out of space, you can feel like Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.” You don’t 
care that it is raining or that everyone else is hurrying to work and scowling. Life is so wonderful 
that you just want to gaze at that baby in the carriage. After a while, you learn to hide your 
drunkenness without suppressing it, to keep calm and carry on. 




Bhakti Distribution, partition, separation. A division, portion, share. Division by streaks or lines. A 
row, series, succession, order. That which belongs to or is contained in anything else, an attribute. 
Attachment, devotion, fondness for, devotion to. Trust, homage, worship, piety, faith or love or 
devotion to (as a religious principle or means of salvation, together with karman, “works,” and 
jnana, “spiritual knowledge”). 


During meditation you will find yourself thinking of the people you love. You will be attending to 
the texture—the tantra—of your relationships and feeling what is there. This is your heart 
vibrating and pulsing with your connection. You can transcend on bhakti on love and devotion. 

When you love someone, you carry them inside you and will think of them all the time, 
including during pranayama, shavasana, and meditation, even if you try not to. You can’t help but 
be bothered by your love. Your awareness is sneaking off to practice bhakti yoga and will do so no 
matter what style of class you are in, no matter what you call your meditation system. In the 
bhakti yoga stories, otherwise honorable and diligent women (the gopis ) are always getting up in 
the middle of the night and slipping away to worship Krishna down by the river. In daily life, 
attention steals moments of bhakti here and there to muse about your lover, baby, cat, dog, or 
creative project. Part of love is worrying about people, praying for them, attempting to find words 
to say what you feel. All of this is welcome in meditation. 

Loving any one being, one person, expresses your devotion to your local part of the infinite 
universe. This is a tangible thing you can do, an act of power and creativity. The everyday practice 
here is to know that no matter who or what you love, this love is yoga in its most fundamental 
form: linking, connecting, valuing the other, honoring the relationship. There are many kinds of 
love, many textures of relationship, and each moves and challenges us in a different way. There is 
erotic love and all those wild energies of sexual devotion. There is friendship, parental love, family 
love, unconditional love. Every form of love is sacred; every relationship, temporary as it may be, 
teaches us about eternity. Bhakti yoga says that you can be in an erotic, passionate relationship 
with God; you can be friends and equals with God; you can even feel parental and protective of God. 
All rivers flow to the ocean. 






Vastu: Becoming light, dawning, morning. The seat or place of any really existing or abiding 
substance or essence, thing, object. In philosophy, the real (opposed to that which does not really 
exist, the unreal). The right thing, a valuable or worthy object. Goods, wealth, property. The thing 
in question, matter, affair, circumstance. Subject, subject matter, contents, theme (of a speech), 
plot (of a drama or poem). In music, a kind of composition. Natural disposition, essential property. 
The pith or substance of anything. 


When you focus on something that engages your entire interest, the rest of the universe 
disappears. This is wonderfully peaceful. 

Find something so compelling that you want to engage with it to the exclusion of everything 
else—at least for a while. Getting lost in something is a natural experience. Little kids do this when 
playing. Children of all ages can get totally absorbed in books. Teenagers get fully focused in 
games, sports, video games, music. Vastu has vast meaning—wealth, property, the plot of a drama, 
music, a poem. The only thing that matters is that your vatsu is engaging, that it calls you 

Yogis and meditators need to make sure they have and indulge in benevolent obsessions, 
whether it is a music group, romance novels, movies, games, Mardi Gras, or comic book 
conventions. It is healing to have your whole intellect and intuition, all your mental powers, 
absorbed in your area of interest, whether it is fly-fishing or martial arts. For some people, it may 
be gambling or shopping. Everything else in the universe drops away, and you are free. All your 
troubles are forgotten. Your whole being is appeased, tranquil. You are walking on air. 




Shuddhi Cleansing, purification. Purity, holiness, freedom from defilement, a purificatory rite. 
Setting free or securing (from any danger), rendering secure. Justification, exculpation, innocence 
(established by ordeal or trial), acquittal. In arithmetic, leaving no remainder. One of the shaktis of 


Following the rules, eating right, doing yoga, and meditating, you get healthier and healthier. Then 
one day you notice you are starting to be disgusted by everything. The world seems impure, 
people are impure, and food is impure. This is a dangerous side effect of practice. If you start 
disliking your body and being disgusted by contact with others, you can lose your primary 
relationships or develop eating disorders. 

If you are attracted to this sutra today, it may be time to leave behind the mental 
preoccupations with purity and impurity and the overly obsessive thinking yogis are prone to. 
Vkalpa has many meanings, including “false notion, imagination, calculation, mental occupation.” 
Nirvkalpa is “without vkalpa.” After a certain point in practice, you cannot afford to let other 
people’s rules rule you. 




Samanya: Equal, alike, similar. Shared by others, joint, common to. Whole, entire, universal, 
general, generic, not specific. Common, commonplace, vulgar, ordinary, insignificant, low. 
Equality, similarity, identity. Equilibrium, normal state or condition. Universality, totality, 
generality, general or fundamental notion, common or generic property. Public affairs or business. 
In rhetoric, the connection of different objects by common properties. Jointly, in general, in 


Notice that ordinary people are full of the wisdom of life. Or you could say, “The reality of cosmic 
awareness is everywhere, in everyone.” 

A mantric phrase from this sutra you may enjoy is sarva bhairavo bhava— “Everywhere the 
infinite consciousness is becoming.” Sarva: “everywhere, at all times, in every case.” Bhairava: “the 
Terrific One, the primordial awareness.” Bhava: “becoming, existing, manner of being, 
temperament, passion, emotion, love.” Sarva bhairavo bhava. 

When I first started meditating, I happened upon this perception unknowingly, and it was like 
stepping into another world that looked just like this one, only magical. It seemed to me that 
ordinary people were walking around in God consciousness. They were already in on the secret. 
They just got up in the morning, fed the dogs, and went to work. After my meditation teacher 
training, I felt that I was the one with elite knowledge. Over time, I came down off my throne, 
which was painful. 

Regular people, who don’t practice yoga or meditation, are sensible. They don’t try to get their 
dogs to become vegetarians. Those of us who are constantly meddling with our organs of 
perception, dialing in new energies, are always losing our common sense. As the range of our 
senses increases, we are ecstatic, delighted, and expansive. We think we have discovered the secret 
of life, until eventually we realize that all kinds of people are already there. Dancers at the ballet 
know more about movement and stillness than we do. Mountaineers know more about mental 
silence than we do. Singers know more about breath than we ever will. Fishermen know more 
about patience than we do. The mother with three kids who gets everyone to school on time knows 
more about grace under fire than we do. If you are a yoga teacher, you may realize someday that 
your students know more about shavasana than you do. The reality of God is common to all. It is 
not specific to you at all. This is a cheerful, humbling perception. 




Sama: Any, every. Even, smooth, flat, plain, level, parallel. Same, equal, similar, like, equivalent, like 
to or identical or homogenous with. Always the same, constant. 


This sutra points to a daring level of equanimity requiring you to differentiate yourself from the 
collective trance. At one level this sutra is a heads up—a notice saying that a time may come when 
it is appropriate for you to rise above and beyond the opinions of others. Your inner work will have 
led you here. Listen to the song of life within you, make your choices, go your way, and leave 
behind the whole struggle to be hip and to avoid being uncool. 

The Sanskrit here sounds like the plot of a daytime soap opera: mana means “opinion, 
arrogance, indignation excited by jealousy (especially in women), sulking; a blockhead, an agent, a 
barbarian.” When you are established in inner equanimity, it’s all the same (sama) to you, whether 
the players like you or not. 

Keep in mind that everyone will still have their opinions, and may feel indignant about your 
aloofness and superiority. They may sense that you are not obeying the herd, and they may be 
envious. Envy is the desire to have what the other has, so some part of them wants this freedom. 
Bless them on their path. 

This sutra is a hint to keep favoring the inner happiness that percolates up from your deepest 
bhava (“becoming, being, existing, turning or transition into”) during meditation. Allow joy, 
pleasure, delight, and ease to keep on permeating your being, and let the soap opera continue on 
its own, without you. Let the other characters in the soap opera continue on their own without 
you; they will be fine. 



Brahman: The one self-existent spirit, the Absolute. 


While you are meditating, images and sensations of what you like and dislike will arise, calling your 
attention, inviting you to mix it up somehow. Instead of taking sides, explore the texture of the 
middle spaces, all the nuances of energy and emotion. Brahma , the one self-existing spirit, 
witnesses all qualities and is not bound by them. 

Set everyone free. Set yourself free from your previous dislikes and likes. Let your brain 
reboot. Start fresh from this moment. Everyone and everything are part of brahman , the Absolute. 
Everything you have ever perceived is an intrinsic part of how you arrived here, in this moment. 
You do not need to be bound by the coloring, raga, that you put on things in the past. That was 
then. This is now. Deliver yourself from the trap of believing all those evaluations. Mukta is “let 
loose, set free, delivered, emancipated.” Let all those prisoners out of jail. 

Get intimate with the continuum of infinite variability between the extremes. There is wide- 
open space here in the middle, a spaciousness embracing all human emotion. Dislike or passion, 
these are notes on the keyboard; know and appreciate all octaves. You are not just one set of notes; 
you are the player of notes, and you are the Great Silence from which the notes emerge. 

A caution: this practice gives you the power to make yourself into a completely bland person 
with no raga, no passion, whatsoever. It is like becoming tasteless white bread, distilled water—no 
salt, no spice, no taste, no minerals. This is a gateway to depression and emotional malnutrition. 
Your healthy adaptation to life depends on having a rich life of passion appropriate to your unique 
character, your age, and your life path. Are you on the path of renunciation or the path of 
intimacy? Celibates need to dissolve passion. If you are married, dissolving passion will just destroy 
your marriage. 

During this meditation, your passions will tend to melt into peace. During your everyday life, 
stay close to your preferences and encourage your likes and dislikes. 




Bodha: Knowing, understanding, waking, becoming or being awake, opening of a blossom, 
blooming. Taking effect (of spells). Exciting (a perfume). Perception, apprehension, thought, 
knowledge, understanding, intelligence, consciousness. Awakening, arousing. Making known, 
informing, instructing. 


This is an invitation to appreciate the knowing that is beyond objects. Consciousness wakes up and 
blossoms, bodha, into intimacy with that which cannot be grasped. This is a stage of transcending 
that usually flashes by in a fraction of a second, as everything you think you know dissolves into 
space, shunya. Even if this awareness lasts a flicker of time, it is still valid and, over time, will 
continue to blossom. Take a breath and inhale its perfume. 

Notice what happens when you come up to the edge of your understanding, the limits of 
perception. Get to know what it is like to fall off the edge of the world into emptiness, no-thing- 
ness. Some phases of meditation are very much like training in any sport; the coach has you do 
exercises to refine your skill and reduce effort. In this sutra, the tendency to grasp, to try to grab 
hold of knowledge, is replaced with spaciousness. Gently, gently, you let the body and mind get 
used to how wonderful it is to know nothing. 

The last word of this verse is bodhasambhava, a beautiful mantra to use as a reminder. Bodha, 
“blossoming, awakening, arousing.” Sambhava, “together, coming together, union, intercourse, 
sexual intercourse, acquaintance, intimacy.” Bodha sambhava: to come into intimacy with pure 



Samavesa: To enter together or at once, meeting, penetration, absorption into. Co-existence. 


This is a fancy version of what kids do for fun—lying on their backs in the grass and looking up at 
the cloud-filled daytime sky or star-filled night. Gaze at the all-pervading spaciousness and with 
your awareness enter samavesa, the vastness. 

Place your mind in outer space, bahya akasha. Reach out and touch the stars with your 
awareness. Then enter the vastness of the cosmos and know it as your home. This is not just a 
metaphor. This is a physical reality—your molecules came from space, from the exhalation of a 
primordial sun. 

Bahya akasha is a beautiful sound you could use to propel your mind into outer space. Bahya , 
“being outside, outer, exterior, strange, foreign.” Akasha, “a free or open space, a vacuum; the sky 
or atmosphere; the subtle and ethereal fluid supposed to fill and pervade the universe and to be the 
peculiar vehicle of life and of sound.” Become that vehicle, flying through the space you behold. 





Taranga: “Across-goer,” a wave, billow, a section of a literary work that contains in its name a word 
like sea or river; a jumping motion, gallop. Cloth, clothes. To move like a billow, to wave about, to 
move restlessly to and fro. 


This is a completely wacky practice: wherever the mind moves, in that moment, move on. Don’t let 
the mind rest anywhere. Keep it jumping, keep it skipping over the top of the waves. 

This sounds just like what we do anyway when we are distracted. In Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot 
used the phrase “distracted from distraction by distraction.” Some days it seems like most of us are 
running around this way. 

The Sanskrit is cute: yatra yatra manas yati Yatra yatra means “wherever, whithersoever.” 
Manas is mind in its widest sense—intellect, intelligence, understanding, sense, the spiritual 
principle, the breath or living soul, thought, imagination, desire, mood. Yati is “goes.” You could 
use yatra yatra as a kind of fly swatter to keep the mind moving. 

Each thought is a wave. One of the skills of surfing is to know how to dive under the waves so 
you don’t get caught in the churn. In this meditation, you keep your mind skipping along the 
surface, free of any one wave, then you let it dive of its own accord. It’s a rebound effect. You take 
the mind’s natural motion, amplify it to exhaustion, and then let it rest in the depths, motionless 
and still ( nistaranga, from nis, “out, forth, free from”). 



Bhaya: Fear, alarm, dread, apprehension. Fear of or for. Terror, dismay, danger, peril, distress. 
Danger from. 


When fear rises during meditation, welcome it, feel into it. Enter the vibratory world of sensations 
underneath that emotion. 

Many of our thoughts during meditation have their origin in what we are afraid will happen. 
Most of the uncomfortable emotions and sensations you feel during meditation have some 
connection with fear, anxiety, or nervousness. This is not to be denied. Loving opens us up to loss. 
If we go for it in any arena and follow our passions, we put ourselves at risk. We can learn to make 
fear our friend. 

The name of this text is the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Bhairava has many, many meanings, 
including “terrific”—the aspect of universal consciousness that accepts our terror as prayer and 
opens the door to revelation. Contemplating infinity can lead to terror and ecstasy at the same 
time. Meeting the soul is terrifying. 

Therefore, terror is not shameful; it is to be embraced. Terror can be subtle, as in the 
recognition that life is short and you have to get on with what you are here to do and experience. 
The alarm goes off and propels us to wake up and seek God. Every human emotion, every impulse, 
is an opportunity to awaken to the immediacy of life. 

Several meditations are suggested here. One could be to meditate with the phrase bhaya sarvam, 
“everyone is afraid.” (Bhaya, “fear, alarm, dread, dismay.” Sarva, “all, whole, entire, everyone.”) 
Suns are probably afraid when the time comes for them to die. Who knows? 

Another meditation is to use bhairava as a mantra, and be aware of the vast range of meanings 
such as, “God is here, inside my fear” and “The universe is indeed vast and terrifying, and yet 
permeated by a friendly consciousness. I am intimate with that One.” 

The trembling we feel in terror is a vibration in our bodies. Every cell is buzzing. Listen to this 
sound rising up from the depths of your being. 



Aham: I. 


Aham is the source of all mantras and can be heard in a variety of delightful ways—for example, as 
aha followed by mmm. It can also be heard as ah followed by ha and then mmm. 

Ah! Ha! Mmmmm. 

Aha! Mmmmmm. 

Aaaaahhhh haaaaaaaa mmmmmmm. 

These are sounds we make all the time, because we like to. We say “Ah!” in surprise, “Ha!” in 
laughter, and “Mmm!” in pleasure. We say “Aha!” when we have sudden insight, and we can say 
“Mmm, thank you, universe, for existing.” 

Whenever you explore your relationship to mantra as sound, use your own personal principle 
of onomatopoeia—the feeling that the sound is itself the meaning. You can tell what mantras are 
good for you by how they feel. 

Aham points to the mystery of consciousness, that there is a witness to creation. Aham is a form 
of pranava, the primordial shout of exuberance that set the universe in motion, and is similar to OM 
or Aum, but more personal. 

Sit or lie down somewhere safe and engage with the mantra aham , either in Sanskrit or as the 
English, “I am.” A couple of times a minute, quietly whisper aham with your inner voice, 
subvocally, and notice what happens. Pay attention to the spaces before and after the mantra. You 
can ask aham to repeat itself within your awareness, so you can lean back and simply listen. 
Delicately pulsate with the sound. Do not feel you need to fill the silences; rather, allow the sound 
to evoke silence, to remind you of the way silence is humming with peaceful aliveness. Over time, 
learn to embrace aham with spaciousness and to tolerate the sense of individual identity existing 
against a background of infinity. 





Nitya: Innate, native, one’s own. Continual, perpetual, eternal. Constantly dwelling or engaged in, 
intent upon, devoted to, used to. The sea, the ocean. Constant and indispensable rite or act. 


Eternity is your native state. You have choice about how you want to dwell here. You can be 
devoted to any quality that inspires you and engage with it continually. 

This sutra invites you to inhabit your native state by immersing yourself in a mantra of your 
own. Ask yourself, “What quality would I love to be permeated by?” Notice what arises. Come up 
with one, two, or three qualities. Give them names, and use those words as a mantra. This 
meditation can become your constant companion. 

Any quality you are craving—peace, love, harmony, joy, order, freedom, communion, 
creativity—is a good mantra to use. Your desire for that quality is itself a form of prayer and a 
shakti, an impulse of power from the depths of your being. The words to use are different for each 
of us, and they change over time as we evolve. 

Shabda is “sound, noise, voice, tone, note; a word, speech, language; the right word, correct 
expression; the sacred syllable OM.” When you name something you love, it becomes a mantra for 
you. The right word for you is an articulation of your yes to life and your version of OM in this 

Ask the spiritual energy you feel in the mantra to repeat itself in your heart as you move 
through your day. Your body will grow to love this feeling of being your own portable sanctuary. 
Everywhere you go you will feel at home. You are a native of eternity. 





Atattva: Non-essence. 


In Sanskrit, when you add a short a before a word, it negates the word’s meaning. For example, 
yoga means “connection, union,” so ayoga means “separation, disjunction, separation from a 
lover.” Tattva has a range of meanings, including “essence; true or real state, truth, reality; the 
essence or substance of anything.” Therefore, atattva means non-essence. 

Say you have learned the three flows of shakti, the nine states of the soul, and all thirty-six 
tattvas of Kashmir Shaivism. Now you realize it is all a joke—that all this knowledge has no 
substance, no base in reality. It’s atattva. 

You have stepped behind the curtain and are witnessing the magician at play. Indra is the god 
of the senses, and Indra’s network of the senses is how we perceive anything at all. Our bodies are 
permeated with an internet of miraculously functioning nerves and senses, and the brain takes 
many millions of bits of information every second and creates the world we perceive. This is grand 

Consider that the act of perceiving is a kind of lovemaking with the elements of light, sound, 
vibration, gravity, and the chemistry involved in smell and taste. The sutra uses the word vraj, “to 
go, walk, wander, to go to have sexual intercourse with.” There is a subtle erotic sense of being 
tickled and teased by the great magician. 





Atman: To breathe. To move. To blow. The soul, principle of life and sensation. The individual soul, 
self, abstract individual. Essence, nature, character, peculiarity. The person or whole body 
considered as one and opposed to the separate members of the body. The understanding, intellect, 
mind. The highest personal principle of life, brahma. Firmness. The sun. Fire. 


Contemplate your essence, your individual and peculiar self, every sensation you have ever felt, 
your entire sense of life, your personality, everything you understand—the wholeness of who you 
are. Breathe with this awareness. Adore the miracle of this tiny spark of fire existing in the midst of 
infinity. You are a small sun, shining forth against a backdrop of vastness. 

Now contemplate infinite spaciousness and emptiness, shunya. The emptiness of space is so 
accommodating that it makes room for hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of 
billions of stars, and is not crowded at all. Thus, the universe easily makes room for you, your 
atman, to be here and breathe and witness infinity. 

What is a sun but radiance? Why can we see stars a billion light years away? Because of the 
utter clarity of shunya, emptiness, the space that allows everything to exist. Outer space is so clear 
that there are particles or waves of light touching the earth’s atmosphere right now that 
originated in the ecstasy of ancient suns, which no longer exist. The clarity of space allowed those 
little photons to travel across the universe and make it here, bringing their message, “I was once 
part of a sun. Now I give my light to you.” 

Only atman knows these things from the inside. Only the soul knows the soul. The questing 
mind goes silent in awe of infinity. 




Pratibimba: The disc of the sun or moon reflected (in water). A reflection, reflected image, mirrored 
form. A resemblance or counterpart of real forms, a picture, image, shadow. 


For the Great Self, there is neither bondage nor liberation. Na me bandha, na moksha me: “Not for me 
bondage; neither am I liberated. I was never lost in the first place.” 

Bhairava, the One Who is Enjoying Everything Everywhere, is saying, “The sun reflects off the 
water. If the angle shifts and you do not see the reflection, does that mean the sun has gone away? 
You have the power to form conceptions, to make mental models of the world, if you make a model 
that says you are separate from Me, does that mean I have gone somewhere? When your buddhi 
your power of forming conceptions, forms the idea that you are separate, isolated and lonely, you 
become terrified. The universe then seems like a dangerous place.” 

The concepts of bondage and liberation are scary ( bhita: “frightened, alarmed, terrified, timid, 
afraid of or imperiled by, anxious about”). Terror is part of the path. The name Bhairava itself 
means “frightful, terrible, horrible, formidable.” When you become scared, use that as energy for 
your awakening. 

Know that your essence is not trapped in this body. You are not bound by the space-time 
continuum. The soul, that which you seek, is not trapped in matter. 


Engaging with the Sutras 

There are many ways to explore the Radiance Sutras and develop a meditation practice with them. 
One way is just to show up and dive in. Read them once in a while and let them influence your 
pranashakti your life force, in the background. Another way is to develop a relationship with one of 
the sutras and spend time with it on a regular basis. You can ask your inner wisdom to lead you to 
the right sutra and teach you the most useful way to play with it. 

Here are a few more hints for cultivating a healthy and life-affirming meditation practice with 
the sutras. 

Respect the power of your love. Answer the call of the sutras you love. It is powerful to 
spend even one minute being in the presence of what you adore. 

Make yourself at home. One of the great gifts of meditation is learning how to be at home in 
yourself and in the world. As you come in and explore your relationship with these practices, be 
welcoming and nonjudgmental toward yourself. 

Open embrace is the style of attention called for in most of these 112 practices. This is the 
opposite of concentration. The posture is that of opening your arms wide to the universe and to 
your inner world. 

Be playful. The word lia (pronounced leela ) is Sanskrit for play and amusement—and the sense 
that the universe has been manifested as an act of play by the divine. As you engage with these 
tantric techniques, give yourself permission to be at play, so that you can find your individual path 
in meditation. 

Be gradual. Allow yourself to gradually become familiar with a sutra. Notice where in your 
body you respond to the images and sensations that the text evokes. When you practice, delight in 
the gentle progression from the outer level of experience to the interior, intimate levels. This may 
take only a few seconds, but it’s gradual. The text uses the word sanais, “quietly, softly, gently, 

Ride your rhythms. When you practice with these sutras, there will always be flow and 
fluctuations in the pranashakti the vibrant energy of your body-mind system. Your experience will 
change second by second, and many sensations, emotions, mental pictures, remembered 
conversations, dreamlike thoughts, desires, and energy sensations will come and go. The waveless 
state usually lasts only a second or two. Welcome it all, then return to your focus in an effortless 
way. Yogis often go through an entire mythic journey in a few minutes—Hearing the Call to 
Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Crossing the First Threshold, the Road of Trials, Meeting the 
Mentor, Seizing the Elixir, Resurrection, and the Return to the Ordinary World. Meditative 
experience is often intense. 

Ask questions of life. Practicing tantra does not mean imposing techniques upon yourself. An 
attitude of wonder and inquiry is one of the greatest skills you can develop. Cherish your 
questions, and then be alert so that you can see, feel, and listen to life’s responses. 

Be succinct. In exploring what you love in a certain sutra, feel into what is the most wonderful 
word or phrase for you today. When you say or think those one or two words, the whole sutra will 


be there, vibrating. There are times when shorter is better. You can select an English or a Sanskrit 
word or phrase, welcome it into your awareness, and cherish it. 

Learn by heart. When you find a sutra, a line, or a phrase that resonates with you, memorize 
it. Learn it by heart. In this way, you can close your eyes and let it roll through your awareness. 
Remembering is smara, loving recollection. 

Learn what effortlessness is. When you allow your attention to be called to something you 
love, the flow is natural. Effortlessness is a great skill and emerges spontaneously from operating 
in accord with your essence, your prakriti (your essential nature). Effort comes in only when you 
try to block out thoughts, sensations, or emotions. 

Find what works for you. There is no one prescription for a meditation practice. Some people 
are able to practice the sutras’ techniques on the fly, as they move through life. They can enter and 
exit meditative states within seconds, almost invisibly. I love to meditate for half an hour in the 
morning and again late in the afternoon. Other people make time for meditation every couple of 
days or on weekends. The main thing is to explore, test what works, and don’t make yourself feel 
bad for not fitting into an imagined ideal. 

Don’t do too much. Get used to enjoying yourself. Begin with a minute or two of practice. 
Over days, learn to stay in the practice for a few minutes longer. Twenty minutes of meditative rest 
is very powerful. Spend a year or two getting used to the effects of meditating for twenty or 
twenty-five minutes in the morning and evening before going longer. This is just a guideline, 
though; if you are teaching yoga or doing healing work, you may find that you need to meditate 
more, to keep your energy field shimmering. 

Honor the no. Not all of these practices are for everybody. The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is a 
mini encyclopedia of yoga meditation techniques. Some will call you to come in and play. Some will 
be scary. Others will just not feel like you, so feel free to simply ignore them. Saying no creates a 
container, a boundary, leading to the possibility of a profound yes at some other time. A healthy 
relationship includes the freedom to say, “No, not right now.” 

The skills of meditation are the skills of loving anyone or anything. Meditation is not a 
separate set of skills apart from living and loving people, places, and things. In your inner life, 
learn to hold yourself as skillfully as a cook holds a spatula, a cellist holds a cello, a singer holds a 
note, a mother holds a baby—think of how lightly and yet firmly, how stable and yet responsive the 
holding is in each situation. The holding changes continually in response to the changing 
situation. The skills of meditation are like this in a subtle way: you are holding and releasing 
thoughts, emotions, sensations, and perceptions. 

Allow yourself to rest in the truth of your being. When you are attending to a sutra that 
speaks to you, there will be waves of exhilaration and restfulness—the power of outward 
expression of your truth and the power of resting in your being. Both will evolve over time. As you 
learn to rest in your essence, a special, almost magical kind of meditative rest will develop. This 
aspect of the physiology of meditation has been researched extensively at Harvard Medical School 
and other universities over the past forty years. Meditative rest is a type of rest deeper than deep 

Meditation is not making the mind quiet. It is tolerating all the noise without resistance and 
discovering the silent depths. Meditation is not sitting still. It is enjoying your motion on all levels, 
including the subtle levels, where stillness and exquisite motion seem to be one and the same. 


Honor your individuality, for it is a great mystery. Everybody has a different style of engaging 
the forces of life as they flow through the nadis (energy arteries), chakras (rotating wheels of 
energy), and muscles. The song Bhairava and Devi are singing to each other is one of intimacy with 
energy. These practices lead to an intensified relationship with the life pulsating within and 
around us. Cherish the differences between you and others, for intimacy is based on an 
appreciation of differences as well as commonality. 

Be tender toward your wounds and all that you feel is flawed, broken, or defective in 
yourself. As the sutras say, these wounds are gateways to infinity. Allow the life-giving prana to 
circulate freely in your being and body and to heal the places you are ashamed of, the places that 

Check in with your inner child. Take time to daydream about your childhood quiet times, 
your forts and secret places, those times when you spoke to the sky and earth, for in these times 
and places, you were natural and untamed. 

Take naps. If you have been playing with the sutras for a while, you may find that your naps 
become sublime and feel like meditation. These catnaps can create a feeling of being drenched in 
rejuvenation and healing. Many of us have a sleep deficit, and the more you pay that off, the more 
you can enter deep states of meditation. 

Use all your senses. You have a dozen senses, maybe more—vision, hearing, smell, taste, 
touch, plus senses of joint position, balance, motion, stretching, lung inflation, blood pressure, 
hunger (blood sugar), thirst (hydration), and perhaps magnetoception (the ability to sense 
magnetic fields). Each sense is a way of being in contact with the vibrating, pulsating field within 
which we are dancing. Learn all your senses, practice using them, engage with them in pranayama 
(breathwork), asana (movement), dharana (holding a thought), and dhyana (appreciation), and daily 
life. Become intimate with the full range of each sense and delight in the nuances and 

Get elemental. Space, fire, air, earth, water, are the general tattvas, or elements. The Vijnana 
Bhairava Tantra invites you to develop your own playful and informal relationship with each 
element, as it pulsates in the outer world and within you. Learn to be intimate with each element 
with each of your senses—the sight of water flowing, the sound of waves, the smell of the air near 
rivers and oceans, the taste of anything you drink, the touch of the shower water all over your skin. 
Find your favorite experiences and continually cultivate and expand your list. 

Be instinctive. Learn also to relate to each element with each of your instincts, of which you 
have many: homing, exploring, trail-making, resting, nesting, feeding, bathing, forming 
communities, pair bonding, mating, playing, self-expression, protection, and others. So you can, 
for example, rest with fire, as in luxuriating in the presence of a candle or fireplace. You can be fed 
by fire, in the form of the heat that cooks your food. You can bathe in fire, in the form of 
sunbathing or just exposing your skin to the sun. You can experience an erotic relationship with 
sunlight when hiking or doing outdoor sports. Everything you do in the outer world to enrich your 
sensuous perception of the elements will also enrich your inner world when you are practicing 

Welcome infinite variety. A healthy meditation practice involves welcoming the free flow of 
all elements, with all your senses engaged, and all of the instincts free to give their gift. The 
combinations and permutations are as vast as the stars in the sky, and in this way, each moment of 


meditation is novel, startling, and fascinating. You enter a lively peace born of embracing life in its 
fullness, and your body, your perception, and your spiritual practice will be continually refreshed. 
Let each of your senses delight in each of the elements, in every instinctive tone; this is a healthy 

Welcome your emotions. To the degree that you open your heart to life, you will feel flooded 
by emotions of all kinds. Each emotion is a world of energy flows and sensations throughout the 
body. Some of the major moods described in the yoga literature include laughter (hasya), erotic 
love or lust (rati), sorrow (soka), anger (krodha), enthusiasm (utsaha), fear or terror (bhaya), disgust 
(jugupsa), and astonishment (vismaya). We can see these emotions as a color wheel, a mandala; each 
one has its place and its gift to give to the vibrancy of life. It is not necessarily a good meditation if 
you are sitting there feeling peaceful the whole time. A good meditation means you get what you 
need to thrive in your life. 

Cherish nuance. Blue light oscillates at around six hundred trillion times a second; red light, 
only four hundred trillion times a second. Green light is in between, in the five hundred trillion 
range. Yet we can easily perceive the difference; our senses have evolved to notice and utilize the 
various frequencies, all these tiny wiggling energies. We also sense nuances of emotion. We sense 
the subtle differences between worry, regret, discouragement, envy, weariness, depression, 
anxiety, grief, shame, agitation, despair, impatience, and indignation. We distinguish between lust, 
love, adoration, and admiration. Some nuances are fleeting, lasting a fraction of a second; others 
demand your attention for a long time. 

Noticing emotion may involve detecting many processes within the body and around the body. 
We are simultaneously gauging our hormonal and muscular situation, along with assessing what is 
going on in our outer world. We interpret all this information and attempt to shape prana, our 
natural energies, to respond to the life situation. Be inviting, accepting, and friendly toward your 
moods in all their varieties. Each is a form of the life force, prana, as it flows. 

Welcome emotional release. An intimate relationship with pranashakti the energies of life, is 
like any relationship—you laugh and you cry. Therefore, welcome thoughts and emotional release 
as an intrinsic part of the process. Crying and laughing may not seem meditative, but they are 
cleansing, nourishing, and rejuvenating, and signs of a healthy meditation. The heart and the 
chakras (the instinctive centers of the body, such as the sexual area, solar plexus, heart, throat, 
and head) get to reboot themselves, start afresh. Chronic muscular tension blocks the flow of 
prana and emotion in the body, and as you let go of that tension, you may find you have a backlog 
of emotions to tend to. Get good at this tending. If it’s all too wild, work with a mentor who is adept 
at dealing with emotion. 

Savor your emotional experience. When we attend to the flow of emotion with the skills of 
yoga, there is the possibility of transmutation. The raw experience of life becomes refined. Erotic 
energies lead to a lovemaking between body and soul. Angry energies turn to the element of fire. 
Sorrow leads to compassion. Humor leads to levity, a light heart. Even the most base emotions, 
when we engage with them as yogis, can turn to gold. We extract the essence, the juice, or rasa, of 
experience, and bliss, ananda, emerges. Attending to the energy flows in the body is similar to 
witnessing a movie, play, or dance performance: you are witnessing the play of life as you. As you 
cherish your experience in this way, you can spend more time in wonder, awe, and peacefulness. 

Write your own sutras. Give yourself the opportunity to speak and write from inside your 


own current of perception. There is a flavor, a style, of sensing the energies of life that is unique to 
you, and your world needs it. 

Don’t put your enlightenment outside of you— not in India, in the past, in the future, in 
gurus or experts. Honor the revelations that come from your own direct living experience. 

Note the difference between the path of denial and the path of intimacy. In the past, 
yoga was the domain of males who practiced a particular asana toward life— sannyasana, “throwing 
down, laying aside, giving up, resignation, renunciation of worldly concerns.” Those who practice 
this posture toward life are called sannyasin, or renouncers, and they generally take vows of 
celibacy, poverty, and obedience to their superiors in the tradition. The ideal is to be poor and 
homeless and yet free within, as well as free to practice yoga and meditation all day. This is the 
ancient path, and it was profound; the energy that would otherwise go into raising children and 
running a business goes into practicing and preserving the knowledge of meditation. Historically, 
almost all meditation texts were composed by male renouncers, and so the language system and 
techniques were shaped for their lifestyle of detachment and denial. All of us who practice 
meditation today owe these renouncers a debt of gratitude. They kept the faith. 

In the modern Western world, yoga is practiced mostly by women and men who live in the 
world and have families and jobs. This is the path of intimacy, and in many ways it is the opposite 
of renouncing. Those on the path of intimacy work with attachment, desire, and responsibility, 
honoring and embracing each aspect of life, as time, energy, and ethics permit; their yoga evolves 
though love, work, play, and honoring the bonds of friendship and family. Instead of taking vows 
of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, those on the path of intimacy experience sexual relationships, 
work to generate wealth, and explore the play of independence and cooperation with others. 

Always practice in accord with your inner nature, whether you are on the path of denial or the 
path of intimacy. 

Give up altogether on judging your experience. During meditation, your brain and body are 
running maintenance programs. There is a lot of healing going on. Often you will be hurting and 
feeling your exhaustion. If you were an athlete getting a massage, you wouldn’t say, “It was a bad 
massage because the therapist was rubbing my sore muscles.” 

Make peace with thoughts. If you are going to meditate, make peace with the flow of 
thought. The brain is always making connections, whether you are meditating or not. Hundreds of 
thoughts come and go every hour; this is what brains do. When you close your eyes and pay 
attention, you may become vividly aware of the intricate lightshow that manufactures all we see, 
hear, feel, think, and sense. If you are not willing to make peace with thoughts, then do something 
else for your development. Get into dance or sports. Take singing lessons. Learn an instrument. 

Don’t enforce a speed limit. You don’t have to write yourself speeding tickets. Eyes and 
brains work fairly rapidly: third-grade students generally read two-to-three words per second, and 
college students average over seven words per second. When you are meditating, you might have 
seven perceptions per second. Not a problem. People often talk about meditation as slowing down. 
Consider the opposite: appreciating how fast attention moves. Even though your awareness might 
be vibrating rapidly, your body and your breathing will often slow down if you are doing one of the 
sitting or lying down meditations. A speeding mind and slow body can happen simultaneously. 

Welcome your wildness. There a meme in children’s cartoons in which someone opens a 
door, discovers a monster roaring “RAAAARRRGHl” and then slams the door and shudders. This 


shows up in adult movies also: the characters are in a quiet room and walk outside into a tornado 
of human activity. When some people close their eyes to meditate, they immediately sense 
wildness and feel out of control. This is not a failure to meditate; it is a glimpse of the astounding 
reality that is always here. 

Cultivate the opposite. If you are in love with one side of a polarity—outside-inside, dancing- 
stillness, visual-tactile, passion-serenity, wildness-peacefulness, freedom-discipline, 
independence-communion—begin to inquire into the joy of the opposite, which will arise anyway. 
Yoga flows between the polarities—breathe out then breathe in, turn toward the left then turn 
toward the right, bend forward then bend back. Train yourself to think in terms of the balance 
between opposites and the continuum of energies flowing between the poles. Tolerating the play 
of opposites is called tapas in yoga and valued because this builds strength. 

Look at art, listen to music, read poetry, and dance. The arts, including the expressive arts, 
speak of the sacred, each one in its own way. Art educates the senses and creates community, 
sharing revelations with others around the world throughout time. Whenever possible, attend live 
events, openings, and performances, for artists of all kinds are yogis in the sense of being utterly 
devoted to bringing forth onto the earth the revelation of truth and beauty. Artists seek to 
articulate, each in their own medium, the resonance of pranashakti in our times, the unfolding 
revelation. Be in the presence of artists—musicians, singers, dancers, painters. Know that the 
attention you bring is a blessing to them, as you appreciate their work from a deep place within. 

Develop expression commensurate with your communion. Learn to express yourself from 
inside your ecstatic energy flows and sacred spaces; otherwise, the energies you awaken will just 
ache. Expression takes the form of movement of all kinds, including dance, sports, and speaking 
from inside the current of your passion. Mudra is soul-infused movement, and mantra is evocative 

Get coaching on your meditative practices. For example, I’m a meditation coach, and I enjoy 
working with people in person, on the phone, and by email. When you work one-on-one with a 
coach, you and your coach can honor your individual experience. 

Be open to teachers. The best teacher for you on any given day may be the one who embodies 
the quality you are craving the most, and they may teach in ways other than words. A massage 
therapist, vocal coach, wilderness guide, or an instructor of dance, art, yoga, breathing, surfing, or 
martial arts may be your inspiration. 

Stay in touch. There are lovers of life around every corner. Find others who share the same 
enthusiasm as you. (One way is to sign up for my mailing list; see my website to do so.) 

Come to workshops with us at yoga and retreat centers worldwide. Don’t think, “Oh, 
everyone is more advanced than me,” or “I don’t have the right yoga pants to wear.” You are 
always welcome. Take our online courses or download audio programs to stay tuned in to the 
community of others exploring The Radiance Sutras. 




One day in 1968, when I was a freshman at the University of California, I signed up to participate in 
a brain-wave biofeedback study. Learning to control your brain waves by looking at flashing lights 
sounded interesting. Also they paid more than I was making mowing the greens at a nearby golf 
course. Due to the flip of a coin, I was selected to be a control subject in the study, meaning that I 
received no instructions whatever; I was just hooked up with electroencephalogram (EEG) wires 
stuck all over my head and left in total darkness and total silence, in a soundproofed room in the 
physiology lab, for two to three hours at a time, every day for several weeks. 

At the time, I had never heard of meditation. Not knowing what else to do, I simply paid 
attention to what was going on. Gradually my senses opened up in ways that I had no words to 
describe. My sense of self melted into the dark. I merged with blackness and infinity and entered a 
world of spacious peace. Space itself seemed to be made out of harmony. 

Walking out of the lab each afternoon, I felt refreshed and wonderful. It was as if my entire 
previous life had taken place in a mild sleep state, and now I was fully alert. It was as if I had never 
seen the world before, and everything alive seemed to glow, especially the trees. I began to 
appreciate every detail of light, every touch of air, every sound, with extraordinary clarity. Light 
itself seemed soluble, an elixir I was drinking in through my eyes and the pores of my skin. 

I would have been astonished, but the intensity was balanced by a magnificent serenity. I was 
drenched in moving peacefulness. The perceptions seemed natural—this is the way the world has 
always been—but I had been too oblivious to notice. 

I was delighted. The feeling was similar to the peaceful joy of surfing, but more intense and 
steady. I felt like myself, but this was a self I had never spent time in before. I was very much in my 
body, aware of the current of life flowing through me, and at the same time I could feel an extended 
sense of touch reaching out in all directions. I was in love with existence. 

The experiment continued for weeks. I enjoyed going to the lab each afternoon and sitting 
there in the dark for hours, then walking out into the light and discovering a new world. I got used 
to living in this free and open state in which I just breezed through tasks that previously had been 

I noticed that even taking calculus tests was easy; my mind was lucid, and I could remember a 
formula that I had glanced at the night before, then derive its applications right there during the 

The heightened sensing and superb functioning lasted for a month or so after the experiment 


was over. It was a continuous and self-maintaining state. Then it started to fade away, and I missed 

The physiology lab seemed like an interesting place, and I needed a job, so I started to work 
there. At a meeting one afternoon, a female graduate student read from the Vijnana Bhairava 
Tantra, just a few lines of the conversation between Shakti and Shiva. Her words vibrated in the air 
with brilliance. After the meeting was over, I asked her about it. She handed me the book, a 
paperback copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps. It was open to a page: 

Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two breaths. After breath comes in 
(down) and just before turning up (out )—the beneficence. 

As the breath turns from down to up, and again as breath curves from up to down- 
through both these turns, realize. 

Or, whenever inbreath and outbreath fuse, at this instant touch the energyless 
energy-filled center. 

As I read that, a quiet happiness filled my being. This description felt intimate and familiar, an echo 
of my experience in the lab. An electric current lit me up from the inside out, everywhere in my 
body. In one instant, everything changed. I was standing there in the lab, but the world was full of 
new possibilities, because the words in the book spoke to the heart of what happened during those 
hours in the dark room and afterwards. I immediately jumped into my car and drove to the nearest 
bookstore to buy the book. Standing there in the bookstore, I read: 

Wandering in the ineffable beauty of Kashmir, above Srinagar I come upon the 
hermitage of Lakshmanjoo. It overlooks green rice fields, the garden, of Shalimar... 

Water streams down from a mountaintop. Here Lakshmanjoo—tall, full bodied, shining 
—welcomes me. He shares with me this ancient teaching from the Vigyan Bhairava 
and Sochanda Tantra,... and from it Lakshmanjoo has made the beginning of an 
English version. It presents 112 ways to open the invisible door of consciousness. 

Hmm, I thought, so there is a teacher by the name of Lakshmanjoo who lives this teaching, and he 
says there are many doors to consciousness and each one can be practiced. 

In this way, my first taste of the revelations the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra came from sitting in 
silence and darkness, with no knowledge of meditation. The next came through the written word, 
the sense of being electrified by the current of power behind the words of Lakshmanjoo and Paul 
Reps. It was obvious to me that they were writing from inside the same pulsating current of life 
force that I was being introduced to. 

My experience in the lab taught me that meditative attention occurs spontaneously. From the 
Bhairava Tantra I learned that there are many pathways into meditation. Learn to shift your 
attention slightly, and you will find them, and you will find the ones that are svanurupa , suited to 
your character (“natural, innate, well suited”). The life force flowing through the body invents 


techniques as needed—just tune in. These two insights, of the instinctive naturalness of meditation 
and the tremendous variety of approaches, have been guiding and inspiring me ever since. 

In 1969, as part of various research projects at the university, I started teaching meditation. 
When people would come for instruction, I asked them to tell me about their natural “meditative” 
kinds of experiences: “When have you felt peaceful, glad to be alive?” I found that as they spoke, 
they would enter the meditative states they were talking about. After an hour or ninety minutes of 
listening in this way, I would ask them to browse through the Vijnana Bhairava section of Zen Flesh, 
Zen Bones and show me which of the practices they recognized as being natural to them, or which 
they just were interested in. Whichever one they selected, we would work together to develop that 
into a daily practice for them. 

In 1970, I was trained as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation (TM) by Maharishi Mahesh 
Yoga. TM utilizes several of the practices in the Bhairava Tantra and is an elegant system. After 
completing the teacher training, I immediately went on to three months of advanced training. At 
Maharishi’s suggestion, I spent twenty-eight days in total darkness, from full moon to full moon. 
From before dawn to early evening, I would flow through asana, pranayama, and meditation, over 
and over. During that time, I found that my body was also flowing through the 112 practices of the 
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Each of the practices would arise as needed then fade into the 
background. After a week or so in the dark, there were moments and days of pure terror, in which I 
was face to face with what felt like ultimate destruction. 

When you become silent in meditation, you are, whether you know it or not, inviting all the 
noise in your soul to come to the surface to be resolved and turned into harmony, if you have any 
traumas, they invite themselves to come to awareness and be healed. If there is anything to have 
flashbacks about, they come, because this is the best possible situation for them to flash back and 
forth and reoccur until their healing purpose has been fulfilled. This happens whether you want it 
to or not. I did not want it to, but I wanted to be healed and integrated, feel at home in the world, 
and be free of the profound loneliness aching in my soul. 

Out of the silence arose a flood of memories, a continuous stream of the storehouse of 
impressions. I relived my entire life over and over, backward and forward, with particular focus on 
everything painful. Attention would zoom in on a moment of pain or agony, amplify it, then zoom 
out to embrace the solar system and this blessed little ocean-covered rock we are on. Then again, 
awareness would focus in, like a microscope, on another painful memory encoded in my muscles 
or senses. I viewed it from inside, then all around, then backward, then forward, amplifying, 
amplifying, intensifying beyond all limits of endurance, until I finally let go and let the pain have its 
way with me, which felt like dying. This process was merciless and thorough—no molecule went 
untouched. The pain became elemental, like a blowtorch, intolerable, heating up the atoms of my 
being. At other times I felt like a lump of coal being crushed by the earth for an eternity, but there 
was no sense of slowly being turned into a diamond. 

For the first two weeks, I wanted to run screaming out of the room. Maharishi had instructed 
me to just “feel de body,” stay with the sensations, so that’s what I did. The pain got worse and 
worse until it was the only thing in the universe. Finally, out of desperation, I relaxed into being 
the space that embraces this solar system. Within this sphere, the earth is just a grain of sand, held 
lovingly in the orbit of the sun. This went on over and over, relentlessly, until every trauma was 
healed, every harm forgiven, every agony erased. 


I noticed that my body was meeting each impossible demand with one of the brilliant methods 
of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Each blast of flame, sensation of being crushed, encounter with 
terror, or feeling of being ripped apart molecule by molecule required a specific skill and demanded 
to be met with one of the meditations described in the text. We all have survival instincts that 
come to us when we desperately need them. I felt that for my survival, I needed to stay in that 
room. When faced with each intolerable energy, I would let go into a skill, a way of welcoming the 
energy so that it was transmuted into something else. I had just a hint of technique, but it was just 
enough to allow me to stay and face everything steadily. 

There came a moment, a breath, in which there was nothing left to fear, nothing anywhere in 
my being I had not faced. I waited for something else to arise and looked around in the inner 
universe with an attitude of welcoming, of “bring it on.” But nothing came. There was nothing but 
a vacuum, an incredible, vibrating nothingness. 

I took another breath. 

And mind dissolved into empty space. Heart dissolved into a spaciousness that was somehow 
very friendly. Then I simply dissolved into vast darkness—the space embracing the solar system, 
with a teeny dot in the center, shining steadily. 

I stayed in the room for another week, just savoring what had happened, resting in a quiet, 
self-sustaining, steady ecstasy as I flowed through asana, pranayama, meditation, pranayama, 
asana, pranayama, meditation, over and over again. 

One day, some inner prompting told me it was time to emerge. I arose around 4 a.m. as usual, 
did asanas, and meditated. Then I walked outside and found myself in the presence of the full 
moon, which was extremely bright to my dark-adapted eyes. The moon was on its way to setting 
behind the mountains. I turned my back to it and looked out over the Mediterranean and the stars 
glowing above the water. I felt a deep, intimate communion with everything. After a while the 
horizon started to glow, and I watched and waited. When the sun rose over the sea, there was glory 
in the sky. When I took a breath, there was an elixir of new life in that salty air coming off the 
ocean. With that breath, the thought came to me from somewhere, “Now I can live.” I was a 
changed person. I was simpler. At the same time, an ancient witness within had emerged, someone 
who had seen millions of sunrises and delighted in every single one. 

Later that day I walked down the beach to where Maharishi was staying. I told him that I had a 
strong feeling that “if I could stay in the room for three years, I would become enlightened.” It was 
such a deep yearning in my heart, in my entire being. 

Maharishi chuckled, then looked at me with those fathomless eyes and said, “Go and teach, 
hmm?” My head dropped. He said, tenderly, “Go and teach, and come back. More advanced 
trainings.” That was it. 

Then a spiritual flashbulb went off inside, flooding my entire being in an instant. 

“Thank you, Maharishi,” I said. I was at peace, happy. 

I knew—it was obvious—that Maharishi himself would rather be in a cave somewhere, or on a 
mountainside in the Himalayas, meditating, breathing the pure air, cherishing the silence. But 
there was a call he could not refuse: to go to the West and teach meditation. His heart had led him 
to be here. 

When I returned to California, I moved to Laguna Beach and spent my days surfing, teaching 
meditation, and going to college at University of California, Irvine, in that order. For the next five 


years, until 1976,1 exuberantly taught TM in Southern California, primarily in Orange County and 
Los Angeles. I taught at UC Irvine, in various businesses, in six different high schools, and in 
people’s homes. 

During this time I was a subject in physiological research on meditation underway at UC Irvine 
Medical School and the University of Southern California. These studies were not fun. There were 
no deluxe soundproofed rooms. But I felt that I owed the meditation research community a great 
debt. So when a scientist would call and very politely request my participation in a study, I would 
almost always say yes. The location was often a physiology lab with hundreds of rats in cages along 
the wall, smelling of rat food, rat droppings, and ether. Here I would sit and meditate while doctors 
stuck needles in my veins to take blood samples and measure changes in serum cortisol or blood 
flow to the brain. Other times the study was intended to measure oxygen consumption or galvanic 
skin response or brain waves. 

Having participated in the research was a great asset for teaching in the universities. When I 
would be lecturing and showing slides of the scientific research on meditation, professors and 
doctoral students would challenge the data. I could gracefully field their questions and say, “I don’t 
know,” when appropriate, and this led to an easy rapport. After a few years, a group of professors 
started suggesting I get a PhD, because it seemed like a natural next step for me. 

I entered a PhD program in the Social Sciences Department at UC Irvine, where I studied 
meditators’ subjective experiences and the language they use to describe these experiences. The 
cognitive sciences and semantic anthropology had developed wonderful tools to reveal people’s 
inner maps of the world. I created a technique for interviewing meditators in which I would sit 
with them for up to two hours and listen, occasionally asking leading questions. 

I interviewed meditators of all kinds, including athletes, soldiers, hunters, dancers, atheists, 
Zen practitioners, Buddhists, Christians, stay-at-home mothers, and rebel, do-it-yourself 
meditators. These were people who usually would not, in the course of things, ever talk in depth of 
their meditative experience. In hundreds of sessions, I invited them to enter peaceful and ecstatic 
states, of whatever kind they had access to, and then speak from inside the experience. 

Since then, as I have been teaching (and practicing) the yogas of the Bhairava Tantra, I’ve 
spent quite a few thousand hours sitting with people in the silence as they meditate and then 
listening to them talk about their experience. 


Engaging with the methods of the Bhairava Tantra for forty-plus years has opened up my senses so 
that I can see the energy shimmering around someone who is in the process of a spiritual 
awakening, listen to the song of their life-force flowing, and feel the current of their individual 
integrity. I have learned from this that the radiance, the spiritual power of that awakening, is their 
real teacher. My task as a meditation guide is to help them recognize the awakening, cooperate 
with it, and find the appropriate meditation practice to support it. 

People who are interested in meditation are often on the verge—or in the midst—of intense 
revelations that they do not have the skills to fully accept or the language to express. In fact, it is 
this awakeningin-progress that calls people to come learn about meditation. This is what teaching 
meditation is about. I coach people in how to accept and roll with the yoga practice that is 


happening spontaneously. 

Awakenings do not come uninvited, in my experience. We just forget that we’ve invoked them. 
At some point the day or year before, we asked life to lead us onto a better path, and then things 
shifted around in the background to make that possible. The methods, the yuktis , that Bhairava 
sings to Devi are ways that evolution gets our attention. 

In my teaching, I always listen to people as much as time allows. What students say is actually 
more interesting than what teachers say, because in their fumbling for language, they are right on 
the edge of the abyss—in the uncertainty bordering on ecstasy that this text sings of. It’s an 
unusual exploration in language, and I love it. 

If you listen with silent attention and just let people speak from the heart about what they love, 
after a while, perhaps an hour or so, they’ll tend to close their eyes and slip into meditation 
spontaneously. When they emerge, if you can get them to speak, what they say is drenched in 
vibrant peace and sounds similar to one of the practices in the Bhairava Tantra. It is as if one of the 
sutras is on the tip of their tongue. When someone is being called to meditate, there is often 
something in the 112 methods that is already vibrating in their nerves, and this is their natural 

When people are in ecstatic meditative states and you can get them to say something, they 
tend to generate simple succinct language, usually just a couple of vibrant words. “I breathe in, 
and I feel that life is giving me a fresh beginning,” a young woman said after her first meditation 
session. Another woman opened her eyes and spoke from inside a vibrating silence: “I feel at home 
—at home in existence.” That was all she said, simple and stunning. A woman who had been doing 
yoga for several months and was just discovering meditation said, “I feel as if I am drinking in 
peace through every pore of my skin.” A young man looked around the room and with a 
mischievous sparkle in his eye said, “Everything is glowing, as if lit from within.” 

Two seemingly opposite qualities come together: a lively sense of pulsation and a peaceful 
silence. When the person I am meditating with enters this fusion, they glow with life. When I ask 
them to speak, to make words from within such a pulsating silence, it feels like a joke, but people 
usually manage a phrase or two. I call this listening to pranashakti— listening to the spirit becoming 
flesh, listening to the song being sung at the intersection of the life force with the body. 

When I write down the phrases people say, there is a condensed meaning suggestive of poetry. 
We could say that their speech has a mantric quality; it is speech that is evocative of the inner 
world. The thought-impulse seems to rise up out of a field of silence, become a sensation in the 
body, shape itself into a few words, and then, after the words are spoken, the silence becomes 
louder than ever. In Radiance Sutras workshops and one-to-one sessions, people speak this way 
naturally, because that is what they are experiencing. The language is always surprising and fresh 
as it emerges from the encounter of awareness with the subtle energies flowing through the body. 


One day in 1987, after I’d finished writing my doctoral dissertation, a quiet thought came to me: I 
should start working on a version of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. The words and phrases I use in 
The Radiance Sutras are inspired and informed by years of listening to how people speak when they 
are in contact with the soul, giving voice to pranashakti They are also the result of an ongoing 


dance with the living, impish language that is Sanskrit. 

Much of the work was done in the hours before dawn, starting at four in the morning or earlier. 
I find that it is the freshest time for this type of writing. There is a vitality in the air, a wave of pure 
fresh energy sweeping across the earth in advance of sunrise. Writers and meditators can ride this 

This early morning rush has a name in Sanskrit —brahmamuhurta, “the time of Brahma.” I have 
also heard it called navaswan. In Vedic timekeeping, this time is said to start about two hours before 
dawn and last for forty-eight minutes. The Sikhs also have a term to describe this time: amrit vela , 
“the ambrosial period.” They feel it is an auspicious time for spiritual practice. 

If you are rested and ready for it, ready to sit and enjoy the predawn quiet, brahmamuhurta is a 
treat. One moment, it is “the still of the night.” Then something changes—there is a zing in the air, 
and the darkness is lively. 

When I am in a sutra-writing cycle, I often go to bed by nine or so and get up at three or four in 
the morning to take advantage of brahmamuhurta. I pick a sutra, or it selects me, and I walk around 
inside it, chant it and dance with it for an hour or two, in Sanskrit and English (if I have gotten any 
English yet). 

I first approach the text as mantra—I listen for the meaning encoded in the sequence of 
syllables, as one would listen to music. When you chant Sanskrit, after a while, it picks you up and 
carries you. When this happens, it is as if the sutra is whispering itself in the silence, pulsating and 
undulating. This is what I pray for. I know that if I just stay there, suspended between the worlds, 
trusting the silence, eventually I will get a fresh flow of words in English that conveys some of the 
juiciness of the original mantric speech. 

The Sanskrit of the text is incredibly succinct. Each of the 112 central verses describes a yoga 
technique (called a dharana or yukti) in six to twelve words, depending on how long the compounds 
are, using about three dozen Devanagari letters. At the speed of a professional chanter, each verse 
can be said in twelve seconds. They get their point across in twelve seconds! This brevity is a feat of 
engineering. The composers packed many bits of information into each syllable. 

My preferred speed is very slow by comparison; I usually take about thirty seconds to say a 
verse. I like to linger with each sound and notice its effect on my nerves and the way the sequence 
of syllables activates or redirects the flow of prana in my body. Sanskrit has a tendency to keep on 
vibrating even when the verbal and subvocal repetition ceases. Over the years, I spent an hour or 
more with each word and a day, week, or month with each verse. The text is only a couple of 
thousand words, in 162 verses, so this is a doable task and great fun. 

After immersing myself in the mantric quality of the text, I shift to the semantic level, and to 
that I add usage—the way the word is used in the tantric tradition. 

The Language of Enchantment 

Sanskrit is a language of enchantment, and chanting it takes you to an inner world we all share, a 
living, worldwide web woven from prana, the life force. Your body is the access portal. Touch a 
word with your awareness, and it begins to pulsate and shimmer, then tell you tales of its origin. Be 
alert, though—any word may allure you into a magic realm. The pulsation of consciousness is 
stirred as layers of meaning resonate in your heart and scintillating imagery lights up your inner 
vision. Suddenly, you are inside the awareness field of the sages and rishis of the Vedic tradition. 


This is not a world of the past. It is a subtle level of the present—a friendly world, warm and 
musical. When you enter it, you feel as if you have happened upon some cheerful and gabby 
oldster storytellers sitting around a fire, eager for an audience, for fresh ears to regale with their 
tales. Once they let you in, you can’t say, “Oh, I have to go. The phone is ringing.” You have to stay 
until they finish the story, which may take several hours or days—or in my case, years. 

This is Indra’s net, the primordial consciousness net. Instead of taking you to every random 
thought anyone ever posted on some website, it takes you to the best thinking and feeling of the 
meditators and rishis throughout time. Their code is samskrita, an “artificial or constructed” 
language, intentionally devised to safeguard their realizations, the secrets they discovered in their 
caves and in the cave of the heart. It’s the music of the heart. They invite you in: “Come sit by our 
fire, and we will tell you the truth. Your world needs this. Become a water-bearer, a conveyer of 
this wisdom.” 

Your body is the computer, your inner vision the screen, and you access it by meditating on 
the words. Each sound, word, and phrase resonates in the physical body, the emotional body, and 
throughout the subtle levels of your being. The internet being accessed is the vibrating field of 
intelligence permeating the space in which we breathe and think. Instead of using electricity, it 
uses the life force, the energy of breath. 

Assembling the Mosaic 

In order to attune myself to the richness of what Shakti and Shiva are singing to each other, I build 
a semantic web for each word of the text. This is a technique, borrowed from cognitive 
anthropology, for building a mosaic, or a mandala, of the meaning of a word. 

The verses are made up of a dozen or fewer words each. I give every word of each sutra its own 
group of cards. Up to twenty-five cards represent the way the word is defined in the Monier- 
Williams Sanskrit-English Dttbnary. 1 Another cluster of cards indicates how the term is used in the 
Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and various texts of Kashmir Shaivism. The cards are spread 
out on the floor, and I walk around in them for a few hours or days, until I feel that the richness of 
the word is vibrating in my body. Then I lay out the cards for all dozen of the words in a particular 
sutra, and see what I’ve got. That is the mandala of the sutra. This detailed look at the individual 
words leads me into a deeper sense of what other workers in the field understand about the 
techniques being discussed. 

Then I start to pray for English words and word sequences that resonate with the intention 
behind the Sanskrit. I may pace around among these cards for a week, just wondering and listening 
to the mantric quality of the Sanskrit and the corresponding English. 

You can’t sit still to do this type of writing. You have to walk, dance, stand, feel the earth 
beneath you, and open your arms wide to embrace the universe. You have to risk falling in love 
with the practices and be willing to be transformed by that love. Each time you approach a sutra, 
you have to approach it anew. Let the tantra sing to you and make your whole body vibrate with 
its song. 

After looking at the pattern of cards on the floor for a while, a current of revelation begins to 
flow—sometimes immediately, other times after a few days or weeks. Sometimes I have to beg for 
mercy. “Come on, reveal yourself. I am hanging in suspense here. It’s four in the morning, and I 


have been showing up here for a month.” 

There are places where the Sanskrit is cryptic, as if to guard its secrets, and the scholarly 
translations have only hinted at the deeper meanings or spoken in technical language resembling 
computer code. In other places, the text is actually not obscure; it just assumes that you are sitting 
on a hillside in Kashmir with all the time in the world to ask your questions. 

Keep in mind that all of the meditation methods presented in the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra are 
practical and very human—experiences of feeling at one with life, the kinds of things lovers and 
children know. 

Multiple Levels of Meaning and Sound 

Sanskrit is gloriously polysemous (poly , “many,” plus sema, “sign”). Because there are multiple 
layers of information in each Sanskrit word and each layer evokes realms of wonder and awe, the 
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra reverberates with clues to multiple layers of experience. Everywhere in 
this text, the Sanskrit lexicon is used with superb skill to indicate nuances of meditative 

For example, verse 39 (sutra 16) describes a mantra practice. Bhairava uses the word pluta, 
defined in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dttbnary as “floating, swimming in, bathed, 
overflowing, submerged, filled with, flooded.” This is a remarkably sensuous description of the 
experience of meditating with a mantra—especially as attention shifts from verbal pronunciation 
to subvocal speech and then to the energy impulse of the sound as it dissolves into oceanic silence. 
If you interview mantra yoga practitioners and ask them what they experience as they melt into 
silence, you’ll get these sorts of descriptions. Those who know how to meditate deeply with sound 
often say, spontaneously, “I feel flooded by the mantra, floating with it, bathed in the sound.” The 
usual translation of pluta is simply “protracted.” 

When working on my latest version of the sutras, I prefer to use as much of the full semantic 
range of each word as I can fit onto the page without cluttering up the flow. If you ever wonder 
where a metaphor in a particular sutra came from, just look in the Sanskrit-English dictionary and 
follow the trail. 

The language of the sutras is coded as densely as if you said in English, “B. B. King, Clapton, 
Hendrix, Paige.” That is eight syllables evoking a style, a set list, a series of legendary, era-defining 
performances by these adept guitar players, and the awakening that the music evoked in the 
listeners. Or think of these eight syllables: Bach, Beethoven, Wagner , Mozart. Just these few words 
evoke worlds of revelatory beauty. 

Each thirty-two-syllable verse of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is a message sent to the future: 
“Here is the greatest thing I have ever learned. I have encoded it so there is not one extra syllable, 
one extraneous thought. It’s as perfect, polished, purified, consecrated—as samskrita— as I know 
how to make it. My prayer is that this message makes it through to you intact, you who will be 
born in a distant time and place.” 

The text is saying, “Here are 112 yoga practices, each described in about a dozen seconds of 
chanting. We call them yuktis, and each is a gateway into divine awareness. Cherish these as a 
treasure, a gift from us to you.” 

In addition to technical information regarding the skills of meditation, the verses convey 
images and jokes. The composers were irrepressible punsters. When Devi dares her lover, 


Bhairava, to speak the secrets of yoga, she uses the word samshaya, one of the meanings of which is 
“doubt.” The primary dictionary definition of the word, however, is “lying down to rest or sleep,” 
from sam (“together”) and shaya (“lying, sleeping”). Shaya also means, “abed, a couch.” This is the 
second sentence Devi speaks, and already she is suggesting that perhaps they can lie down 
together and he can tell her all about it. 

The language of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra abounds in earthy humor and sexual innuendo. 
When Bhairava describes the yoga of kissing in sutra 47 (verse 70), the word he uses is lehana. 
Usually translated as “kissing,” lehana’s actual definition is “the act of licking, tasting, or lapping 
with the tongue.” To lovers, Itking is an utterly different word than kissing. When monks and nuns 
translate this word, they edit out the juiciness. 

There are images everywhere in the Sanskrit, and I have attempted to use as many as possible 
so that you can access the visceral experience of the practice that is being described. Some 
translations of this tantra are so abstruse that even if you have been doing one of the practices 
described in a verse for years, you can’t recognize it. 

Rasa, used in sutra 49, has the basic sense of “juice” (of plants or fruit) and “the best or finest or 
prime part of anything, essence, marrow, liquor, drink, syrup, elixir, potion, nectar, semen, taste, 
flavor, love, affection, desire, charm, pleasure, delight.” Rasa is also aesthetic relish—“the taste or 
character of a work, the feeling or sentiment prevailing in a work of art.” 

Nitya , used in sutra 109, is often translated as “eternal,” but its full definition is more personal: 
“innate, native, one’s own, continual, perpetual, eternal, constantly dwelling or engaged in, intent 
upon, devoted or used to, the sea, the ocean.” 

These terms, and many others, have oceanic semantic fields. I don’t attempt to reduce them to 
a corresponding word of English in a one-to-one mapping. Rather, I set the mantra-field vibrating 
and listen for English that hints at the mystery. 

In addition to the semantic field of each word, there is the sound of it, which is often succulent. 
Sanskrit is designed to be euphonic, both to the physical ears and to the internal hearing. The 
verses are intended to be chanted and to convey messages in rhythm. Levels of sound and silence 
open up, and the chant gets more and more interesting as it gets quieter and quieter. In yoga there 
is the concept of four levels of sound: 

Vakhari-vak, the spoken word, where there are syllables, words, and sentences; 

Madhyama-vak, the in-between or middle sound, subvocal speech, the sound you hear in 
your mind; 

Pashyanti-vak, seeing, sensing, and beholding the vibratory effect of the word; 

Para-vak, the transcendental sound. 

In between each level of sound are exquisite transitional areas, where one sound melts into the 
other. I ask the Sanskrit of the sutra to repeat itself like a mantra in my heart, so that I can listen 
with every cell of my body. I am willing to be pulsed by the fluctuations and impulses that the 
sounds set up in my nerve circuits and the cool flame that flows along my spine. After a while I 
become enchanted. Often, a soft, warm luminosity fills the room. Even though it is before dawn, 
the atmosphere becomes kind of rockin’. 

I ride the vak elevator up and down, a whispered vakhari-vak to madhyama-vak to pashyanti-vak. I 


inhabit the vibrating energy field at the level just before thoughts become words. This feels like 
being in a hot tub of prana, with bubbles of tingling impulses everywhere. Then I let the impulses 
that gave rise to the Sanskrit give me English words, which I sort of sand down a bit, like a 
woodworker, so they are smooth. 

This is very physical work, letting the sutra hit you and then responding to it. Because the 
sutras are so varied, I find it’s best if my posture also varies, so I flow between walking, standing, 
swaying, dancing, lying down, and sometimes sitting still. Each posture or asana allows me to hear 
different currents of revelation. In this way, I let the chord of the sutra strike me, then I seek words 
that articulate the experience. 

In places, Sanskrit is consciously onomatopoeic: if you listen to it sensitively, something in the 
sound of the words and rhythm of the chanting evokes in you a feeling of what is being described. 
The words resonate simultaneously on all levels: physical, sensual, emotional, mental, and 
spiritual. In so doing, they evoke a vibrational integration or correspondence among all these 
levels. This multidimensionality provides endless possibilities for jokes, plays on words, and double 
and multiple entendres. 

There is something more in Sanskrit: in certain words there is a mystery beyond 
onomatopoeia. An ancestral memory is invoked, echoes of ancient altars—a feeling of communion 
from heart to heart going back through the ages to the primordial ur-language, the first attempt 
to name things. 

Softly I chant in Sanskrit, savoring its sound for a while, and then let it echo inside me, moving 
energies around in my body until I get corresponding English words. I look up the root structure of 
the words to track how they metamorphosed over the ages from Indo-European through Greek 
and Latin into modern English. I am like a hunter following a trail through a forest wet with dew, in 
the lively darkness before dawn, knowing that just around the hill over there I will find what I am 


Sanskrit is finely crafted, designed for use in the oral tradition, in which important meditative 
texts and revelations are memorized, chanted, and passed on over many generations. It was built 
to last. Because of this sacredness, Sanskrit appears to be fixed in time, not developing, evolving, 
or adding new words. It is considered a liturgical language, and it is as frozen as a bug in amber. 
Sanskrit is the language of the ancient texts, but not the language people use to talk about their 
experience and their life in the present. 

The population of India is more than a billion, and yet according to the 1991 census there were 
a total of 49,736 fluent speakers of Sanskrit—about .005 percent of the population. The 2001 census 
found that 14,135 listed Sanskrit as their mother tongue. 2 For decades, there have been attempts in 
India to revive Sanskrit and encourage students to learn it. The High Court of Madras had to rule in 
1998 that Sanskrit is “not a dead language.” 

The English language is in many ways the opposite of Sanskrit. English is a wild, ever-changing, 
ever-evolving language, always in search of the next adaptation of itself, always transforming to 
meet the future, always redefining its words according to popular usage. English is as brilliant in 


its unperfectedness as Sanskrit is in its perfection. 

As part of its adaptability, English is always adding new words, including words from Sanskrit, 
such as pranayama and bhakti It’s doing so because Sanskrit words are so useful for describing 
states of consciousness and yoga practice, which more and more English speakers are exploring. 

A nationwide survey conducted by the United States government in 2007 found that 9.4 
percent of the adult population had practiced meditation in the previous year, representing about 
twenty million people. 3 About the same number of people had practiced yoga in 2007. All of these 
meditation and yoga practitioners reach for words to describe the subtleties of their experiences 
and what they are feeling. As they do, they use the occasional Sanskrit word, which then becomes 
part of conversational English. Writers take part in these conversations and then confidently use a 
Sanskrit word here and there while writing for magazines, newspapers, blogs, novels, nonfiction 
books, songs, and movies. Then it moves to the global scale, such as the Gayatri mantra used in the 
movie The Matrix and Madonna chanting shanti in a pop song. In this way Sanskrit words are 
steadily added to English vocabulary. This has been going on for at least 150 years, since Emerson 
and Thoreau and others began reading translations of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and then 
talking and writing about what they love in these ancient texts. Thus, Sanskrit words like yoga, 
mantra, guru, chakra, dharma, karma, and avatar are now a lively part of American discourse. 

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra begins with these words: sri devi uvacha shrutam deva maya sarvam 
rudrayamala sambhavam. Five of these ten words are already in English dictionaries: sri devi shruti 
deva, rudra. Others words from the text that have made it into English dictionaries are agni akasha, 
amrita, ananda, bhakti Brahma, buddhi dhyana, Durga, Gia, guru, Indra, indry a, kama, Krishna, Kali maha, 
mahatma, manas, Marut, maya, moksha, Mira, prana, pranava, puja, Rudra, sadhu, Shakti Shanti Shiva, 
shunya, tamas, tantra, tattva, and veda. 

Swami Yogakanti of the Bihar School points out that as Sanskrit words become English, various 
spellings and pronunciations are explored. This always happens when words migrate from one 
culture to another: their pronunciations change, because each language has unique sounds, and 
then the words are spelled differently, according to whatever system the receiving language uses. 
For example, the Sanskrit word for meditation, dhyana, became chan in China, and in Japan it 
became zen. 

It doesn’t help that English has a crazy spelling system, and words are often not written as they 
sound. (Linguists describe English spelling as chaotic, erratic, and irrational.) So when ancient 
Sanskrit words are brought into English, they are going from the most precise spelling system on 
earth into a raucous and wacky system, where they are misspelled and mispronounced, which is 
why we have so many creative variations in spelling among different English texts. Unfortunately, 
the semantic range is also reduced. 

Something similar happened a thousand years ago, when tantric teachings were taken from 
India to Tibet and translated into Tibetan. In Foundations of Tibetan Mystiism (London: Rider and Co., 
1959, 27), Lama Govinda remarks: 

if the efficacy of mantras depended on their correct pronunciation, then all mantras in 
Tibet would have lost their meaning and power, because they are not pronounced 
according to the rules of Sanskrit, but according to the phonetic laws of the Tibetan 
language (for instance not: OM MANIPADME HUM, but ‘OM MANI Peme HUM’). 


This means that the power and the effect of a mantra depend on the spiritual attitude, 
the knowledge and responsiveness of the individual. The sabda or sound of the mantra 
is not a physical one (though it may be accompanied by such a one) but a spiritual one. 

It cannot be heard by the ears but only by the heart, and it cannot be uttered by the 
mouth but only by the mind. 

Harvey Alper notes in his encyclopedic Understanding Mantras (Albany: State University of New 
York Press, 2008, 443): 

And, then, there is the knotty problem of pronunciation. Americans, after all, do not 
get the sound right. This is bound to be troubling. From the Vedic age to the present 
day, in mantras the sound is the thing. An apologist might respond, neither do 
Indians. The Vedic ideal notwithstanding, there is no single absolutely correct way to 
pronounce Sanskrit, as regional variations in pronunciation, not to mention the 
migration of mantras from India to Central Asia and East Asia, abundantly prove. 

Shakti or sakti Shiva or siva, chakra or cakra— it is anyone’s guess how these words will be spelled and 
pronounced as they enter wider usage. 

You say Shakti and I say sakti 

You say Shiva, and I say siva. 

Let’s call the whole thing off. 

Apologies and an offering of soma to appease Panini, 4 who is running up quite a tab, as we all 
continue this scandalous enterprise of receiving Sanskrit, finding it useful, and putting it to work 
in our daily lives while we explore the impact of yoga and meditative disciplines. 


I am very grateful to the students, scholars and disciples who have worked to make the Vijnana 
Bhairava Tantra available in various translations. Many of these writers learned the teaching 
directly from Lakshman Joo (1907-1991), a renowned sage and scholar of Kashmir Shaivism. 

As far as I can ascertain, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, by Paul Reps, was first published by Doubleday in 
1957 and is still in print. This was the first book on meditation I ever held in my hands, in 1968. It’s 
how I began this whole adventure. 

The entire Bhairava Tantra is condensed into one section at the end of the book, the rest of 
which is Zen stories. Reps, in his introduction, said that he started with an English version by 
Lakshman Joo and then did eleven more drafts until he got it into the form that he published as 
“Centering.” The whole text is only sixteen pages, about eight verses per page. The English is 
beautiful and simple. It has a somewhat beatnik flavor to it, dig it: “Consider your essence as light 
rays rising from center to center up the vertebrae, and so rises livingness in you.” For decades, I 
couldn’t imagine any other way of reading the sutras. 

The Paul Reps translation was used by Osho (Rajneesh) in his exuberant Book of Secrets (New 
York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010), based on a series of lectures he gave. He goes on for more than 


thirteen hundred pages in his talks on the 112 meditations of the text. 

Vijnana Bhairava: The Manual for Self-Realizatbn, by Swami Lakshmanjoo and edited by John 
Hughes (Culver City, CA: Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 2007), is seven audio CDs (plus a 225-page 
book) of Lakshman Joo teaching the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, chanting the Sanskrit, and then 
explaining the practices. This is the authoritative version of Lakshman Joo’s transmission on the 
Bhairava Tantra. (Note: Hughes prefers to spell the author’s name Lakshmanjoo; I prefer Lakshman 
Joo. In a debate, he would win.) Each of the verses is given in Devanagari (Sanskrit’s written form), 
with a Romanized transliteration and pronunciation guide, plus a link to the place on the audio CDs 
where you can listen to Lakshmanjoo chanting the verse and commenting on it. 

John and Denise Hughes were trained by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as teachers of Transcendental 
Meditation in India in 1969. During the training, Maharishi asked Lakshman Joo to come speak to 
the students. Several years later, in 1971, John and Denise returned to India to study with 
Lakshmanjoo. John made tape recordings of Lakshman Joo’s teachings and transcribed them, then 
went over the transcriptions with him. John and Denise have studied these teachings for decades 
and are custodians of Lakshman Joo’s lectures. 

Lilian Silburn’s 1961 book Le Vijnanabhairava Tantra: Publbatbns de Vlnstitut de Civiisatbn Indbnne 
is in French. If you don’t speak the language, find a French speaker, perhaps a poet, and have her 
read it to you. That is what I did, and it was wonderful. She spoke the text in French and then 
translated, on the fly, into English. Lilian’s writing is imbued with a sensual flow and vibrancy. She 
is another of those who studied with Lakshmanjoo in India. To get a feeling for her approach to 
this tradition, there is an English version of her Kundalini The Energy of the Depths , translated by 
Jacques Gontier, published by State University of New York Press in 1988. Silburn’s writing has an 
embodied feel to it, and she is not afraid to speak of arousing the vibratory energies and letting the 
sacred liquor flow. 

Jaideva Singh is another of those who studied at the feet of Lakshman Joo. I came across his 
Vijnanabhairava or Divine Conscbusness: A Treasury of 112 Types of Yoga (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 
1979) soon after it was published, through contacts at the Siddha Yoga organization. 

The book begins with a blessing by Swami Muktananda. Jaideva Singh’s writing is dense, and 
his translation and commentary explain some of the techniques with notes, footnotes, asides, and 
references to technical terms. It has a dry, scholarly, academic flavor. I have consulted it 
extensively over the past twenty-eight years and have worn out several copies. Fortunately it has 
been reprinted as The Yoga of Delight, Wonder and Astonishment: A Translatbn of the Vijnana-Bhairava 
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991). An excellent part of the SUNY edition is the 
ten-page foreword by Paul Muller-Ortega, in which he gives an overview of the relevance of the 
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra in the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. 

In 2002, Indica Books of Varanasi, India, published Vijnana Bhairava: The Practbe of Centring 
Awareness; Commentary by Swami Lakshman Joo. (Yes, they spell it centring .) According to the 
introduction, “three disciples of Lakshman Joo” collaborated to put forth this version: Bettina 
Baumer and Sarla Kumar edited Lakshman Joo’s notes, and Prabha Devi wrote a foreword. But this 
Sanskrit translation and commentary appears to be lifted, without giving credit, from notes and 
transcripts of the audio recordings by John and Denise Hughes as they interviewed Lakshmanjoo. 
What apparently happened was that over the years, as John and Denise completed different draffs 
of their manuscript, they gave copies of the work in progress to Lakshman Joo, who made his 


mahasamadhi in 1991. A few years later, Prabha Devi felt inspired to reveal this treasure, this gift of 
the master’s divine grace, to Dr. Sarla Kumar and Dr. Bettina Baumer, other students of the 
master. According to John Hughes, in the preface to his Vijnana Bhairava: The Manual for Self- 
Realization , the Indica edition is based on his preliminary manuscript and is “both incomplete and 
fraught with mistakes.” 

This story tells us a couple of things about the tantric tradition, besides the fact that it is a far- 
flung communion of passionate, individualistic people. It often happens that a disciple will do 
years or even a lifetime of work, then take no credit and give all honor to the guru. This is in 
keeping with the egolessness of disciples. There is a humility we all feel in response to the gushing 
wisdom behind these teachings. 

One of the gracious things scholars do is point to everyone from whom they have drawn 
inspiration. It’s called a footnote. But in the tantric tradition, by its very nature, people are off 
doing their own wildly idiosyncratic thing, making music, making babies, and dancing. 

If you look in the backs of the translations I cite here, they do not make any mention of each 
other. It could be that they are working with a theory of immaculate conception. I make no such 
claims—I’ve devotedly read all the other translations of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra cited here, 
dozens or hundreds of times. Their work has helped mine immeasurably. I can’t thank them 
enough. Each one brings out and illuminates different aspects of these extremely condensed 

Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra: The Ascent , by Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati (Yoga Munger, 
India: Publications Trust, Bihar School of Yoga, 2003), is a magnificent work of scholarship, and at 
499 pages, it is among the most comprehensive of the translations described here. It is also very 
readable. The book includes a ninety-page introductory section. Each verse is given in Devanagari, 
followed by a transliteration with word boundaries indicated and component terms defined, thus 
including a full glossary for every word of each verse. 

Swami Satyasangananda is female and has brought brilliant intellectual clarity and rich feeling 
to the text. I adore her at a distance. She was initiated into sannyasa in 1982 by Swami Satyananda 
of the Bihar School. She makes no mention of Lakshman Joo, so apparently this is a separate line of 
transmission of the teachings. There are some differences in the way she unfolds the descriptions 
of the techniques, compared to the other translators. She lives in a religious order and has taken 
vows (including celibacy, I imagine), and therefore she often tilts her translations in the direction 
of renunciation and suppressing desire, which is entirely appropriate for a renouncer. As much as 
it is possible for a nun from India to speak to us in the West, she has. 

Daniel Odier included a short translation of the Bhairava Tantra in an appendix to his book Yoga 
Spandakarka: The Sacred Texts at the Origins of Tantra (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2005). His 
version has a free-flowing quality. Each verse or technique is translated in two or three sentences, 
and the entire appendix is only eighteen pages. He attempts to briefly describe each method and 
leaves terms such as Bhairava , Bhairavi Shakti and Shiva untranslated. Daniel is an initiate of Tibetan 
Buddhism, Kashmir Shaivism, and Zen. He lives in Paris and teaches in Europe and the United 

Eric Baret is another French writer and teacher in the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, based in 
Paris. One day in 1993, I was visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico. By then early drafts of The Radiance 
Sutras had been circulating around the United States and Europe, and somehow a copy came into 


Eric’s hands. He lives in France and happened to be visiting Santa Fe at the same time. Out of the 
blue he called, introduced himself, and said, “I am in town. Fet’s get together!” Eric showed up at 
my door, radiating joy. Over the course of several days, he generously went over the manuscript 
with me line by line and gave me valuable tips and corrections. Thank you, Eric! 

Mark S. G. Dyczkowski is a tantric scholar researching what he calls Kashmiri Shaivism, and his 
work has been a great help to me in understanding the layers of meaning in some of the words 
used in the Bhairava Tantra. His book The Doctrine ofVbratbn (Albany: State University Press of New 
York, 1987) is an example of research combining passion and intellectual clarity. 

Dmitri Semenov published (in June 2010) a translation of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, available 
from the self-publishing website Eulu ( Dmitri writes, “The interpretation is almost 
never literal, but interpretive. The interpretation relies heavily on my own personal experiences.” 
Dmitri is a Russian mathematician and a student of tantra, and he brings a refreshing tone of 
precision to the translation. 

Each of these translations brings out different nuances of the information coded into the text. 
Layers of sound and meaning are playing, and you can choose to listen to one layer or the 
interaction of two, three, four, or more layers. In The Tantrb Body , Gavin Flood discusses the 
optative mood in Tantric texts and points out that “the main verb, ‘he should meditate’... is in the 
third-person singular optative, a mood which, according to the famous grammarian Panini, is used 
in five senses: to denote a command (vidhi), a summons (nimantrana), an invitation ( amantrana ), a 
respectful command (adhista), an enquiry (samprasna) or a request (prarthana)” (London, I. B. Tauris, 
2006, 179; diacritical marks omitted). This is brilliant semantic engineering. Each of these tones is 
profound and has its place; the optative mood gives you options. 

As Flood and Panini point out, what is often translated as “He should meditate” can be taken 
simultaneously as a command, summons, invitation, inquiry, and a request. In a text such as the 
Bhairava Tantra, the sentence “He should meditate,” although semantically correct, is a bit 
insulting to Shakti. It is as if a group of elite males, impressed with their own importance and 
erudition, are proclaiming to each other how clever they are: “The yogi should meditate either in 
the heart or in the dvadashanta ” (verse 37, corresponding to sutra 14). That is not how you enter 
these practices if you are in a Western body and a householder. 

I find the invitatbn mood to be much friendlier ( amantrana , “inviting, speaking to, calling to, 
greeting, welcome”). The Radiance Sutras is a bhashantaram, a rendering of the text into the 
vernacular. Therefore, I have structured the language to be engaging and inviting, not distancing 
and elitist. I have taken as the basic mood of discourse the sense that Bhairava is speaking to our 
bodies through Devi’s body, through her shakti, which is our very life force; this is happening now, 
in the present moment, because Bhairava and Devi are always present; and these are not merely 
esoteric techniques being discussed, but openings or doorways into the sacred that are available to 
us all in the rhythm of a day. In the text, Devi is already enlightened, but she is asking to be 
reminded of the ways in which a being who is immersed in creation can wake up to infinity again. 
Bhairava is her lover, and he adoringly complies. 

When I first looked at the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra in 1968, it was as if Devi handed me a ball of 
light and said, “Here—here are the teachings you have been looking for. Step into this reality. Live 
and breathe it. Share it with all who come your way and ask.” Not knowing any better, that’s what I 
did. I just accepted the ball and ran with it, never looking back. 


These forty-some years have been, and continue to be, a journey of wonder and delight. 


1. Sir Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, etymologically and philologically arranged, with special reference 
to cognate Indo-European languages. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 

2. Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, “Statement 1: 
Abstract of Speakers’ Strength of Languages and Mother Tongues, 2001.” Available online at Arvind Kala, “Hegemony of Hindi,” The 
Times of India (January 6,2007). Sujay Rao Mandavilli, “Sanskrit and Prakrit as National Link Languages: A Balanced 
Assessment,” Language in India 8 (May 5,2008). 

3. P. M. Barnes, B. Bloom, and R. Nahin, CDC National Health Statistics Report #12, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use 
Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007” (December 2008). 

4. Panini, often considered the greatest linguistic genius of all time, set forth the rules of Sanskrit morphology in 3,959 sutras, in a 
text of eight chapters called the Ashtadhyayi, thus defining classical Sanskrit. The text is the oldest existing grammar in any 
language, and research is still being done on the subtleties of Panini’s rules, to shed light on how human language works. He is 
thought to have been born in Northwest India, in what is now Pakistan, and to have lived in the sixth, fifth, or fourth century 
BC. According to the Panchatantra, Panini was killed by a lion. Speculation ever since has been that the lion was the 
reincarnation of a Brahmin priest whose life was ruined when he couldn’t remember one of Panini’s 3,959 rules during an 
important recitation on Hindu Idol 



Private sessbns. There are over a hundred major meditation techniques, and each one has dozens of 
variations, if you would like help finding your way and developing a daily practice that suits your 
nature, sessions are available in person, on the phone, or by video over the Internet. Because 
Lorin’s work focuses on the fine structure of individuality, meditators of all traditions and levels of 
experience seek him out for coaching. 

Online courses. We offer teleseminars on meditation, which you can attend by phoning in or 
listening on the web. 

Audb courses. Audio recordings of Lorin’s talks and guided meditations are available for download, 
or if you prefer, you can order recordings on CD. Visit The audio book Meditatbn 
For Yoga Lovers is available from 

Video mini-seminars. Check out the four-minute videos of Lorin Roche exploring different topics 
related to developing a meditation practice. 

Retreats and Workshops. Radiance Sutras workshops are held at retreat centers around the world. It 
is a delight to get away for a weekend or a week and immerse yourself in the freedom to explore 
your own innate experience and get coaching. 

The Feminine Path. Lorin teaches with his wife, Camille Maurine, who is a world expert on meditation 
and the female path. Together they wrote Meditatbn Secrets for Women, a handbook for developing 
your own practice, based on your individual soul nature. Over 80 percent of yoga students in the 
modern West are women, and this is a significant revolution on a historic scale. To find out more, 

Meditatbn Teacher Training. There aren’t enough meditation teachers in the world! Tens of millions 
of people want to begin meditating, if only they can find a way that works for them. Pranava 
Meditation Teacher Training is now being offered and is registered with Yoga Alliance as a two- 
hundred-hour program. Discover more at 


About Accompanying Music 

For the past few years, musicians Dave Stringer, Denise Kaufman, Donna DeLory, Joni Allen, C. C. 
White, Christine Stevens, Steve Gold, Joey Lugassy, Ena Vie, Howard Lipp, Zoe Elton, Dearbhla 
Kelly, and others have been putting the Radiance Sutras to song. This has evolved into jam 
sessions, called Sutra Sessions, in which musicians and singers improvise to the Sutras. These 
sessions are ecstatic and amazing. We often have an open mike, and members of the audience 
come up and read their favorite Sutra. Join our mailing list to find out about events near you. 

Dave Stringer, Donna DeLory, Joni Allen, and others have been composing and recording 
stunningly beautiful songs of the Radiance Sutras. For a free download of one of the Radiance 
Sutras put to music, visit 



Much gratitude to the merry band of yoginis and yogis around the world who have blessed me, 
encouraged the writing, lovingly edited the text, and read it back to me, drenched in shakti. 

Camille Maurine, my Shakti, wife, and creative partner, just by walking through the room 
illuminated many teachings in this text. Camille also spoke the verses to me many times, dancing 
while she edited. 

Denise Kaufman created, in collaboration with Dave Stringer, the Sutra Sessions, live jam 
sessions with musicians improvising to the Radiance Sutras. Sean Johnson and Gwen Colman 
brought their New Orleans groove to the sutras. Joey Lugassy, Donna De Lory, Christine Stevens, 
Joni Allen, C. C. White, Craig Kohland, Steve Gold, and others have given their gift of music to the 
school of sutra rock. 

Victor Miller, Eric Baret, Ari Davis, Ilene Segalove, Emilie Conrad, Ana Claudia Cunha, Felicia 
Tomasko, Micheline Berry, Tesa Silvestre, Melanie Foust, Tia Reiss, Elyse Neuhauser, Dr. 
Christopher Key Chappie, and Dr. David Gordon White have all contributed in wonderful ways. Dr. 
John Casey, of Loyola Marymount University, fine-tuned the Devanagari text and created the 
phonetic spelling. Thanks also to Dr. Wendy Doniger, Dr. Mark S. G. Dyczkowski, Dr. Gavin Flood, 
Frederick M. Smith, and Dr. Hugh Urban for their writings and valuable input. 

The brilliant Shiva Rea and the wildly wonderful tribe she has called together have embraced 
me and enriched my understanding of Shakti immeasurably. May Devi bless their community. 


About the Author 

Lorin Roche, PhD, began exploring the 112 meditations of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra in 1968, and 
it has been a nonstop love affair ever since. He began meditating as part of a scientific research 
study at the University of California and was soon assisting the research and training subjects to 
meditate. After advanced training as a meditation teacher in 1970, Lorin taught in think tanks, 
universities, military bases, high schools, hospitals, retreat centers, and private homes. He was 
involved in the physiological research on meditation until 1975, when he switched to studying the 
emotional and subjective experience of meditation. Lorin received a doctorate from the University 
of California at Irvine in 1987. In his research, he used the tools of cognitive anthropology to study 
the language of experience—the way meditators describe their inner worlds. His master’s degree 
research investigated the hazards of meditation and the crisis points in a meditator’s development; 
practicing the wrong technique for your personality and body type can produce harmful effects, 
and even the right type of meditation can challenge your system and produce evolutionary crises. 

Lorin is a pioneer in developing personalized meditation practices, designing the techniques 
around an individual’s inner nature. In addition to The Radiance Sutras, Lorin is the author of five 
books on the life-affirming path of meditation, including Meditation Secrets for Women, written with 
his wife, Camille Maurine. 

Lorin’s teaching celebrates individual uniqueness and aims at activating your internal guidance 
systems and bringing forth your instinctive knowing. In order to transmit the joyous wisdom of 
the Radiance Sutras, Lorin has created two related meditation systems: Pranava Meditation®, 
which utilizes the richness of the Sanskrit language and is oriented toward the yoga community, 
and Freedom Meditation®, which uses common sense terminology and focuses on inner knowing. 
He teaches and consults worldwide with businesses and universities to create custom meditation 
programs that suit their needs and cultures. For more information on private coaching, lectures, 
workshops, teleseminars, and meditation teacher training, visit or contact him via 
email at 



Meditatbn Made Easy 

Meditation Secrets for Women: Discovering Your Passbn, Pleasure, and Inner Peace (with Camille Maurine) 

Meditatbn 24/7: Practbes to Enlighten Every Moment of the Day 
(with Camille Maurine) 


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© 2014 Lorin Roche 

Originally published by Lorin Roche as Subtle Bodies © 1993 
Foreword © 2014 Shiva Rea 

SOUNDS TRUE is a trademark of Sounds True, Inc. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the author and 

Cover design by Rachael Murray 
Book design by Beth Skelley 
Printed in the United States of America 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
Roche, Lorin. 

The Radiance Sutras : 112 gateways to the yoga of wonder and delight / 

Lorin Roche, PhD ; Foreword by Shiva Rea. 
pages cm 

Previously published by Syzygy Creations, Inc., 2008. 

In English and Sanskrit; translated from Sanskrit. 

ISBN 978-1-60407-659-2 

1. Tantras. Rudrayamalatantra. Vijnanabhairava—Criticism, interpretation, etc. I. Tantras. Rudrayamalatantra. Vijnanabhairava. II. 
Tantras. Rudrayamalatantra. Vijnanabhairava. English. III. Title. 

BL1142.6.V556R63 2014 


Ebook ISBN 978-1-62203-166-5 
10 987654321